International researchers found that the global diet is becoming sweeter, with sugary drinks to blame. Sales of sweetened beverages in developing countries have seen an increase as retail stores selling packaged foods are starting to become more common in low- and middle-income countries.
Researchers found that the rising consumption of sugar is fastest in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Oceania, the Caribbean and Latin America. Regions such as Latin America, Western Europe, North America, and Australasia hold the world's highest sugar consumption rates. However, sugar intake levels in the latter three areas are starting to see a small decline.
Sugar Intake In India
In a 2013 study in India, researchers analyzed 1,800 children between the ages of 9 and 18 years old and their respective mothers. The study, which focused on the cities Agra, Bangalore, Delhi and Pune, found a strong link between children's dietary intake and their mothers' perception of health. Findings showed that mothers often give their children packaged or processed food because they believe these are more 'hygienic' compared to foods served in restaurants. Peer pressure and food commercials also have an effect on the demographic, as well as the latest craze of consuming Western foods. The findings suggest that without an intervention in the sugar consumption rate in India, it could increase rates of type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity in the next 10 years.
Worldwide Sugar Consumption
Researchers found that global sales of sugary drinks are increasing in terms of volume and calories sold per individual daily. Due to the increasing health risks linked to caloric sugar consumption, the World Health Organization has released major projects to promote the reduced intake of sweetened foods and beverages.
Several governments worldwide have joined the fight against increased sugar intake by rolling out initiatives such as reduced accessibility to sweetened products in schools, marketing restrictions, taxation, labeling and public awareness programs. Countries such as Finland, France, Hungary and Mexico, whose governments have sugar-related taxes, have seen a decrease in consumption.
"The added sugar comes from hundreds of different versions of sugar, all of which have the same equal health effect," said University of North Carolina's Professor Barry M. Popkin, who stressed that the global diet could lurch towards the comparable extensiveness of added sugars in the processed food and beverage supply without an intervention of some sort.
The bittersweet findings were published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal on Dec. 1.