Many of us strive to make healthy food choices, when purchasing packaged foods, but it is often hard to work out what is healthy, and what is not. Even those products that appear to be healthy on the surface may not be, thanks to some very clever marketing tactics. But we are here to help. Let’s take a look at what is really making it into our supermarket trolleys and how it’s increasing our cancer risk!
What’s the problem?
A recent Cancer Council SA survey showed that in 2017, almost two-thirds (64.5 per cent) of all South Australian adolescents reported eating unhealthy snacks three or more times a week. With many of these unhealthy snacks making their way into our homes via our supermarket trolleys, it can make it difficult for us, and our families to eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight and, in turn, reduce our cancer risk.
We know that eating a diet high in fat and sugar leads to weight gain, and that being above a healthy weight is linked to 13 different types of cancer. While the perception that being overweight or obese contributes to cancer risk is growing in the community, unfortunately 42 per cent of South Australians are still unaware of the link.
You may think you are having a little sugar here, and a little there—what’s the big deal? But you will be surprised how quickly it all adds up. On average, Australians are consuming 14 teaspoons of added sugar per day, with adolescents aged 14-18 having the highest intakes of free sugars consuming 22 teaspoons (males) and 17 teaspoons (females), well above the World Health Organisations recommendation of 6-12 teaspoons per day.
How do I know if what I am eating and drinking is healthy?
We are here to help you discover what is really in the food and drinks you consume and help you make some decisions that may help cut your cancer risk. Reading food labels can help you bust through the marketing tactics and become supermarket savvy. Check out or guide to label reading, and print out our pocket guide here to arm yourself with the tools to make healthy supermarket choices. The ingredients list can also help you become a sugar detective. Being able to identify sugar when you shop is vital because sugar can be listed over 50 different names—these are known as hidden sugars. All the different names can make it very hard to identify sugar on food and drink labels.
Some of the common ‘other’ names for sugar include: agave nectar, brown sugar, cane juice, cane sugar, caramel, corn syrup, date sugar, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, golden syrup, high fructose corn syrup, honey, malt syrup, maltodextrin, maltose, molasses, rice malt, saccharose, sucrose, treacle. So, look out for these names on the ingredient list, the closer the ingredient is to the top of the ingredient list, the more of it that is in the food or drink.
How does it help?
Taking note of your sugar intake and what you put in your shopping trolley is a great start in helping to maintain a healthy weight. It is important to remember though that there is a balance between what you eat and drink and how physically active you are, and you should aim for a waist circumference of less than 80cm for women and 94cm for men. Combined, these are all key factors in reducing your cancer risk, and the risk for your family.