How much sugar is too much?

If you’re consuming more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day, that’s too much over time. Eating too much added sugar over time is linked to serious health problems, including obesity, tooth decay and chronic diseases such as Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes and Liver Disease.

Where does the 6 teaspoons a day recommendation come from?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends <10% of total energy intake from free sugar. A further reduction to below 5% of total energy from free sugars is suggested for “additional health benefits”. Total energy intake is generally regarded as 2000 cals, so 10% is 200 cals which is the equivalent of 50 grams or 12.5 teaspoons. 5% therefore is 6 teaspoons.

How much added sugar are Australians eating?

The recent paper by Lei et al (1) from Sydney Uni published in British Journal of Nutrition documents food intake in Australia in 2011-12.

The Lei paper states mean Australian intake values for:
"free sugars = 65.1gm
Given 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon, that converts to 16 teaspoons respectively. 

The report breaks down into age groups e.g. 14-18 year old free sugar is 88gm so 22 tsp.

What is the difference between total, added and free sugar?

We define “added sugars “ as all sugars added to food or beverages and include honey, syrups and fruit juices (i.e. what WHO calls “free sugars”)

Total sugars = all forms of sugar including natural sources of sugar such as those found in fruit (fructose), vegetables and dairy (lactose).

Free sugar is a term used by the WHO and means added sugar plus honey, syrups and sugars in fruit juices.

Where’s the evidence linking sugar consumption to poor health?

Eating too much added sugar over time is linked to serious health problems, including obesity, tooth decay and chronic diseases such as Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes and Liver Disease. Learn more and view the evidence at www.sugarbyhalf.com/why_sugar

Why the name SugarByHalf?

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) health warning limits recommend 6 teaspoons a day of added sugar for optimal health. The average Australian is eating 16 teaspoons of added sugar a day (so more than double the World Health Organisation’s recommendations).We also believe everyone is different. We don't advocate that everyone needs to completely quit or remove sugar (although there’s nothing wrong with that if you choose to!)

Who are SugarByHalf?

SugarByHalf is a not-for-profit, independent organisation working to ensure Australians live better, stronger and healthier lives through the reduction of sugar-related diseasesSugarByHalf was formed because sugar consumption is one of the the largest and most preventable contributors to obesity and chronic disease.

Australia is being crippled by an epidemic of obesity and chronic disease, a problem that is devastating families and set to bankrupt our health system. In the face of government inaction and a sugar-saturated environment, we believe it’s our responsibility to stand up for future generations and help create a healthier future.

Learn more about our team here

What are your goals?

You can learn more about us and our goals at our About Us page.

How do I work out how much added sugar is in my food?

It’s tough to work out because there’s so many names for sugar and our current labelling doesn’t differentiate between total and added sugars. To get started, check out our article on how to read labels.

Most treats have more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar. Can I still have them?

Treats or “sometimes foods” such as cakes, ice cream, biscuits and lollies are called discretionary foods by nutritionists for the simple reason that they are unhealthy and usually provide little or no nutritional value. In recent years we’ve seen discretionary food consumption become normalised as a regular habit. For optimal health, these foods need to return to their place as “sometimes foods” and not be eaten everyday.

What can I do to support SugarByHalf?

  1. Sign up to our newsletter for tips on how to cut back and ways to take action to make our world safer and healthier.
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  5. Help us grow by sharing our content and social media posts with your friends - the more supporters we have on board the louder we can shout out over the top of the ultra-processed food industry.
  6. Make a tax-deductible donation - we’re 100% independent, not for profit, and run on the generous donations of people like you who care about making the world a safer and healthier place for our kids.


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