New proposed guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend we consume no more than 25g of sugar a day. We found supermarket ready meals that contain over 50g – that’s 10 teaspoons.
Following on from the new WHO guidelines, we looked at the sugar content in a total of 17 ready meals from major supermarkets Tesco, Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.
Sainsbury’s Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice contained the most sugar, with around 10 teaspoons per serving – that’s almost double the sugar in a standard size Dairy Milk chocolate bar.
A close second was Tesco Everyday Value Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice, which contains 48.7g of sugar per serving.
If you’re a Which? member you can check out the nutritional content of ready meals to see which popular supermarket meals – ranging from roast beef to chicken tikka masala – are the healthiest for the over 70s.
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The ready meals with most sugar
The ready meals that contained the most sugar were sweet and sour dishes. You’d expect these to be sweet, but you might be surprised at how much sugar they contain. The Sainsbury’s meal, for example, contains three teaspoons more than a can of Coca-Cola.
You can’t always tell by a product’s name whether it contains a lot of sugar. Tesco Thai Chicken Pad Thai with Rice Noodles sounds like a fairly healthy option, but this meal contains 37.8g of sugar in a single serving.
- Sainsbury’s Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice – 50.7g
- Tesco Everyday Value Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice – 48.4g
- Waitrose Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice – 38.92g
- Tesco Thai Chicken Pad Thai with Rice Noodles – 37.8g
- Sainsbury’s Crispy Sweet & Sour Chicken with Rice – 37.2g
- Marks & Spencer Cantonese Sweet & Sour Chicken with Rice – 33.6g
- Asda Sweet and Sour Chicken with Egg Fried Rice – 30.2g
Which? nutritionist Shefalee Loth said: ‘Added sugar is the third or fourth ingredient in all these meals and the main source of sugar, and all contain in excess of the WHO proposed guidelines’.
All these meals contain added sugar in excess of proposed WHO guidelines.
Which? food expert and nutritionist
Clear targets needed for calorie reduction
The high sugar content of these meals goes against the ethos of the government’s responsibility deal, part of which asked manufacturers to cut calories.
We want the government to develop clear targets for calorie reduction as a priority. It’s also important for manufacturers to cut fat and salt, too.