A new survey by AB Sugar, the international sugar supplier, has found that 94% of UK adults are unaware of how many calories they consume on a daily basis.

The company conducted the survey in the light of a barrage of criticism on sugar since the start of the New Year and said confusion was, in part, to blame for obesity.

In March the World Health Organisation recommended that a consumer’s daily intake of sugar should be halved. And in January a new group called Action on Sugar suggested sugar had become as dangerous as alcohol or tobacco.

The research by AB Sugar, which polled 2,000 British consumers, also found that:

•             Over a third (35%) did not know that fish, chicken and eggs are good sources of protein;

•             Almost a third (28%) did not know that rice, bread and pasta are high in carbohydrates; and

•             Over a quarter (28%) did not know that cream, oil and butter are high in fat.

Uphill battle

Dr Julian Cooper, head of food science at AB Sugar, said: “There’s no denying that the country is currently fighting an uphill battle against obesity but, as our research suggests, consumers are completely overwhelmed by the amount of information they receive about what to put into their bodies.

“It’s clear from our research that it’s not just a lack of understanding about calorie consumption and expenditure that is causing a problem, but confusion about the different food groups, their role in our diet and how to balance it all. It’s therefore crucial that we all start working together to get on top of the points of confusion and to provide consumers with the facts and science needed to help them confidently make informed decisions about their own lifestyle choices.”

AB Sugar claimed the recent media focus on sugar had contributed to a few wrongly held misconceptions. Just over half (51%) of the people it surveyed believed there was such a thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ sugar, when instead all sugars - whether honey, white granulated, brown sugar, or even the sugars found in an apple - are treated the same by our bodies. Vast numbers of people (98%) also did not know that sugar only has 16 calories per teaspoon (4g). In fact the average guess was five times higher at 89 calories.