AUSTRALIA’S sweeteners have become popular on supermarket shelves across the country as the government tries to stem the tide of sugar-related obesity and diabetes.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has confirmed that it will be selling 100 million packets of sugar for $6.99, or $3.79 per kilogram.
The packets of sweetener contain 75 calories per packet.
That is more than double the amount of sugar in the average US diet, which has been pegged at about 12 teaspoons per day.
“I think it’s a bit crazy that people are buying so much sweetener,” Health Minister Anthony Simpkins said.
“But it is what it is.”
The US is the world’s largest producer of sugar, which is a key ingredient in the production of many processed foods.
The sweetener has been around for centuries, but the rise of obesity has resulted in a spike in consumption.
Health experts say the rise in sugar-sweetened beverages is not a coincidence.
The amount of sugars in soft drinks and other foods has risen as people have become more sedentary.
“It’s more of a matter of consumption habits than anything else,” Professor Steve Latham, from the University of Sydney, told ABC News.
“In terms of overall obesity, this is one of the major drivers.”
Mr Simpaks says the government will not ban all the sweeteners.
He said the government was also increasing the amount that Australians could buy in grocery stores.
“We are working on increasing the price to make sure it is affordable for everyone,” he said.
The sugar industry has defended its product, saying it does not contribute to the obesity epidemic and that its health benefits include a reduction in blood pressure.
“The evidence shows it does work,” said industry body Sugar Research and Education Australia.
“So there is no question it’s important to have.”