Latin American countries top for sugary drink intake

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/photka
© GettyImages/photka

Related tags Nutrition Obesity sugar tax

Latin American and Caribbean countries are the biggest consumers of sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juices in the world, according to a recent study.

The researchers looked at the intake of sugar-sweetened drinks, fruit juice, milk, coffee, and tea, analyzing data from over 1,100 surveys from the Global Dietary Database project that, together, represent 6.78 billion people from around the world.

Out of the 183 countries studied, the researchers found that Mexicans drink more sugar-sweetened beverages than anyone else. The average Mexican adult drinks over half a liter each day (19 US fluid ounces). This was followed by Suriname and Jamaica, where the average daily intake for adults was around 440 ml (nearly 15 oz).

Latin America and the Caribbean also ranked number one for fruit juice consumption. The highest intake levels were in Colombia, where adults drink around 11 oz a day, followed by the Dominican Republic (nearly 10 oz a day).

"Sugar-sweetened beverage and fruit juice intake was highest in the Latin American region, where both commercial and homemade sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit drinks are widely consumed​," said lead study author Laura Lara-Castor, a doctoral student in the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University Laura Lara-Castor.

The lowest intake of sugar-sweetened beverages was in China, Indonesia, and Burkina Faso while China, Portugal, and Japan drank the least amount of fruit juice.

Informing nutrition transitions 

Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal –  it will appear in Current Developments in Nutrition (​see details below) – ​but was presented at a poster session at Nutrition 2019, a conference organized by the American Society for Nutrition this month.

"These preliminary data[...] can help inform nutrition transitions over time, the impacts of these beverages on global health, and targeted dietary policy to improve diet and health," ​said Lara-Castor.

Latin America's double burden 

Reacting to the study’s findings, Santiago López, executive director for the Latin American region at the International Council of Beverage Associations (ICBA), said the high intake could be due to the “wide array of beverages​” that LATAM beverage companies manufacture.

“This gives way to greater and more specific choice according to the needs and preferences of Latin American and Caribbean people,”​ he told FoodNavigator-LATAM.

“In Latin America and the Caribbean, we coexist with what is known as the double burden of malnutrition – in other words, rates of obesity and undernourishment in the same region – and at the same time, with uneasy access to drinking water in some areas of the region.

ICBA: 'We are committed to reducing sugar'

“Therefore, the beverage sector [has] applied determined action to work hand-in-hand with governments and communities around these complex public health challenges.”

However, Lopez rejected the use of government policy, such as taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages, to fight rising obesity and overweight levels in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“[…] There is a better way to help people reduce the amount of sugar they get from beverages than unproductive taxes, which raise prices of consumer’s grocery carts but have never been proved to reduce obesity.

“We remain committed to driving the progress on reducing sugar in the diet by cutting the sugar in beverages, creating more options with less sugar and zero sugar, clear calorie labeling, responsible marketing practices, and smaller package sizes.”

Such measures have shown results in Mexico that “vastly endorse​” this strategy, he added.

The study also found that high-income regions, including the Nordic countries, Sweden, Iceland and Finland, had the highest levels of milk intake. The researchers attributed this to an established dairy sector and the fact that dairy products are part of a traditional diet in these countries.

China, Togo, and Sudan had the lowest average milk intake.

Source: Current Developments in Nutrition ​(In progress)

Abstract available online 13 June 2019,

“Global, regional and national consumption of major beverages in 2015: systematic analysis of country-specific nutrition surveys worldwide”

Authors: Laura Lara-Castor et al.

Related topics Markets Soft Drinks & Water

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Stevia revolutionizes sugar

Posted by Philippe Sellier,

You know aspartame, the sweetener used by the food industry to replace sugar. In 2009, France authorised stevia from which a natural sweetener is extracted. Without calorie, sweeter than sugar, the stevia revolution is on the way.

Sugar consumption is satisfied with 2 types of sweetening products:

Loading carbohydrates: first, sugar (sucrose) and also polyols (sugar alcohols), isomalts, lacitol and erythritol.

Intense sweeteners, which have no nutritional quality like carbohydrates but whose sweetness is much greater than that of sucrose. Sweeteners can be used in very small quantities. They are very low calorie, but their price is much higher than that of carbohydrates.

Synthetic sweeteners (aspartame, lsucralose, acesulfame K, saccharin, cyclamate) have dominated the world market since the post-war era, but in recent years naturally occurring sweeteners, which for some were traditionally consumed for a long time, are beginning to be used by the agro-food industry.

Stevia, a fake sugar better than sugar?

Stevia, what is it?

Stevia rebaudiana is a shrub that grows in the forests of Paraguay and Brazil and whose dried leaves are used by the Guarani Indians to sweeten their food forever. In South America the ancestors called the Stevia «sweet grass» and putting in medicinal beverages. Stevia thrives in the sun, on rather poor soils, but it does not like soils that are too dry.

The molecules that give them this property are the «Steviols glycosides»*, 200 to 400 times sweeter than the sugar itself! Stevia is a natural, calorie-free sweetening herb

nor carbohydrates. Very small amounts of stevia are enough to bring a sweet flavor to your food.

Stevia long banned in France

Stevia powder, which originates from wild picking and is 100% natural, is nevertheless characterized by the total absence of toxicity and hypoglycemic effect, as shown by repeated experiments from 1931 to 1982. The extract of «Stévia Rébaudioside A» is now authorized in France as a sweetener. It was only with the decree of 7 September 2009 that the use of reobaudioside A* was authorised in France by the health authorities (Affsa and Efsa).

However, to replace sugar, the Japanese have been using it since the 1970s because chemical sweeteners are banned. Stevia has no side effects, is neither mutagenic nor carcinogenic. Stevia is very useful in diabetic diets and hypoglycemic diets.

How much stevia can be consumed?

In 2008, an acceptable daily intake (ADI) was defined (1): the dose is 4 mg/kg body weight.

A person of 60 kg can thus safely consume a dose of 240 mg. per day.

Brussels authorises the use of stevia throughout the EU

The European Commission has just authorised the use of Stevia throughout the European Union.

Following a favourable opinion from the European Food Safety Agency, the committee therefore adopted on 14 November “a regulation authorising its use in various food categories”.

What good is that gonna do?

Well, you will now find stevia extracts instead of aspartame or other sweeteners in your yogurt, cereals, drinks, etc.

This authorization will come into force on December 2, 2011.

Stevia extracts are already very common in products in Asia, South America and the United States, according to the industry, according to AFP.

The nutritional qualities of stevia

Stevia is used for its chemical and nutritional characteristics and in particular its richness of essential nutrients: oligo and macroelements, essential oils, vitamins. Thus stevia finds medicinal, culinary or food uses.

Better yet, steviols have curative qualities against diabetes, hypertension and arteriosclerosis. Stevia is now grown everywhere, in the United States, Japan, Russia …

Did you know that?

Rébaudioside A is a food additive called Rébaudioside 1 that is extracted from stevia: it is a natural sweetener that can replace synthetic sweeteners that are not without health risks.

Steviols glycosides are not fermentable, cannot be digested, so they have almost no caloric power.

Stevia has a bright future in modern food

In June 2008, WHO authorized steroids in human food and launched the massive use of this new natural sweetener by major food processors such as Coca-Cola. Pepsi Cola’s SoBe Life line is “sweet” at baudioside A.

Culture of stevia in France

Stevia is sold as dried, cut and pulverized leaves in the form of white powder or liquid.

The rearguard fight of Aspartame

The conservatism of chemical sweetener producers may explain the French authorities’ caution until 2007. Yet toxicologists and specialists know that aspartame poses health risks. Synthetic sweeteners whose leaders are a subsidiary of Monsanto, Searle, Cargill, and Ajimoto, represent a market of more than $1.5 billion.

The Stevia in the kitchen

What does Stevia taste like?

The Stevia is a bit like liquorice, a slightly different flavour from traditional sweeteners.Stevia is very appreciated in case of diet and for people who cannot consume real sugar.In addition, since the Stevia can be heated up to 200°C, it is easy to use in the kitchen or in pastry.

Sucre Stévia Taken for centuries by the Guarani Indians, the Stévia is used in cooking to sweeten yogurt, teas, fruit salads, and pastries. … Substituting sugar in all circumstances, it has a sweet and sweet flavour with very pleasant plant and licorice stick notes.

Finally, the only small flaw in this new natural sweetener is paradoxically to maintain the taste of sugar. Some nutritionists point out that by deceiving the brain, like all synthetic sweeteners, the Stevia maintains the habit of eating too sweet. Nothing is perfect…

The organoleptic challenge of stevia

Especially since stevia has an aftertaste of licorice that doesn’t really please consumers and that manufacturers can’t eliminate, especially ultra-fresh dairy products. As of 2010, the Danone Group was the first to offer products at the Stévia but with some success: 7% of French households tested them but only a quarter bought them back. Danone finally kept only one of these products.

As a result, in 70% of cases in Europe stevia remains mixed with sugar. ‘There are few total substitutions, especially reformulations of stevia products to reduce sugar content. ‘

That said, the growth prospects are very good for stevia despite the delicate question of taste because currently, on the market, raw materials are more and more expensive. The price gap in favour of stevia remains very large compared to natural sugar and other sweeteners. Industrialists are increasing the number of product launches and demand is increasing by about 50% per year on average. Many markets would like to have such growth!

#stevialite #stevia #sweetener

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