13/04/2017 00:05 BST

Nutella And Tesco Chocolate Spreads Contain '57 Teaspoons Of Sugar' Per Jar

'Stop this misleading marketing.'

Some of the nation’s favourite chocolate spreads contain a whopping 57 teaspoons of sugar per jar, a new report has found.

The Action on Sugar survey of almost 300 sweet spreads - such as jams, marmalades and chocolate spreads - found that many contained “excessive high levels of sugar”.

More than two-thirds of the 38 chocolate spreads surveyed contained over 10g sugar per serving (20g), with the most well-known brands containing three of a child’s five maximum daily teaspoons of sugar - more than half their maximum intake.

The worst offender was Tesco, whose Original Chocolate Spread (400g) and Duo Chocolate Spread (400g) were both found to contain 11.8g of sugar per 20g.

Maike Jessen via Getty Images

The survey found that on average, just two slices of bread with chocolate spread contains the same amount of sugar as 15 chocolate fingers (24g), which is equal to the entire maximum daily intake of seven-10 year olds.

Eaten over the duration of a week (i.e. two slices every day for seven days), that’s 168g of sugar – or the equivalent amount of sugar found in two and a half boxes of Maltesers (based on a 120g box).

Yet worryingly, brands such as Nutella are marketed as a “hazelnut spread” when in reality, the product contains over four times more sugar (57%) than hazelnuts (13%).

Meanwhile Mackays Scottish Strawberry Preserve (340g) came out as the worst offender in the strawberry jam category, containing 13.4g sugar per 20g.

As sweet spreads are one of the top 10 contributors of sugar intake in children in the UK, they are included as part of Public Health England’s Sugar Reduction programme, which has set an average target of 43.8g/100g of sugar for chocolate spreads and 34.6g/100g for fruit spreads.

Action on Sugar is calling on the industry to start reducing levels of sugar immediately and for the government to get tougher if companies show no sign of working towards the 2020 sugar reduction targets, by issuing penalties.

The report also highlights some of the best alternatives consumers can buy if they want to cut down on their sugar intake.

Jim Jams Hazelnut Chocolate Spread (350g) was found to have the least sugar of any chocolate spread tested, at 1.7g per 20g.

Meanwhile Tesco No Added Sugar Strawberry Jam (340g) was found to be the least sugary strawberry jam, containing 0.5g sugar per 20g. 

Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of Action on Sugar said: “Companies that make these ‘sugar’ spreads and specifically market them misleadingly as something else to children, should consider their ethical and corporate responsibility.

“They should immediately stop this misleading marketing and ensure that they go well beyond the 20% sugar reduction that Public Health England is calling for, as there are already identical spreads that contain far less sugar.”

Commenting in the findings, Louise Codling, head of policy and public affairs at World Cancer Research Fund, said: “This new survey shows once again how sugar is too easily making its way into our children’s everyday food. 

“Eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain which in later life increases the risk of 11 common cancers. In fact, if everyone was a healthy weight in the UK around 25,000 cancer cases could be prevented every year.

“The food and drinks industry can play a vital role in helping tackle the obesity epidemic our country is facing today. We urge them to comply with the government’s call for them to reduce sugar content in their products by 2020.”

Meanwhile Victoria Targett, sugar reduction programme team leader at Public Health England, said: “Some sweet spreads contain too much sugar. We’re helping families make healthier choices through our ‘Be Food Smart’ app that shows just how much sugar is in the products they buy simply by scanning the barcode.”

In response to the claims, a Tesco spokesperson said: “We are continuously working to reduce the salt, sugar and fat in our products, and we’re pleased to say we will be reducing the sugar content of our chocolate spread.

“We’re committed to helping our customers live healthier lives with initiatives such as free fruit for kids in our stores, reducing the sugar content of our soft drinks and removing sweets from our checkouts.”

“We’re committed to helping our customers live healthier lives with initiatives such as free fruit for kids in our stores, reducing the sugar content of our soft drinks and removing sweets from our checkouts.”

A spokesperson from Ferrero, who make Nutella, added:Nutella can be enjoyed as part of a varied diet. The recommended portion size is 15g (two heaped teaspoons), which is only 81 calories and contains 8.5 g of sugar. This information is clearly communicated to consumers on pack and in our marketing, which is always targeted at adults and never at children.

“Compared with other typical breakfast options, such as butter and jam on toast, a two heaped teaspoon (15g) serving of Nutella on wholegrain bread contains 3.5g less fat and 2.2g less sugar (measured against two heaped teaspoons of jam with 10g butter).”

The Huffington Post UK has also contacted Mackays for comment, but has yet to hear back.

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