We're eating too much sugar and it's making us sick, advocates calling for compulsory labelling of added sugars in food and drinks say.

Consumer New Zealand and the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) are asking the Government to back new rules for the labelling of added sugars ahead of a food regulation forum held in Australia later this week.

The issue will be discussed at the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation on November 24.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said regulations didn't require manufacturers to show the amount of added sugars in their products, making it difficult for consumers to know how much was in their food.


Overconsumption of sugar presented serious health risks including obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, she said.

NZDA spokesman on sugary drinks Dr Rob Beaglehole said high-sugar diets were a huge factor in tooth decay.

"Sugar consumption simply needs to decrease and clear labelling plays a part in this.

"The Dental Association has been calling for an icon on drinks indicating, in teaspoons, the amount of sugar in each drink," Beaglehole said.

Chetwin said a Consumer survey found 80 per cent of consumers wanted added sugars clearly labelled in the ingredients list.

"The majority also think manufacturers should have to list both total and added sugars in the nutrition information panel," she said.

The latest New Zealand Adult Nutrition Survey found the median daily intake of total sugars was 96g (24 teaspoons) for women and 120g (30 teaspoons) for men.

Sucrose, or cane sugar, was the major contributor to total sugars.


World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines recommend limiting added sugar intake to no more than six teaspoons per day for adults or three teaspoons for children.

Consumer NZ has written to the Minister of Food Safety Damien O'Connor asking him to support added-sugar labelling at the forum.