People who eat too much sugar risk weight gain, tooth decay and a range of health problems, experts have long warned.
But although the NHS guidelines set the maximum daily intake at 30 grams of free sugars per day, or 210 grams per week, it can be difficult to know what combination of foods you can actually eat before you reach this limit.
Those with a sweet tooth who enjoy chocolate, cookies and ice cream every day may be in for a shock.
The MailOnline image offers four combinations of sugar-packed treats, but only one falls within the health care sugar guidelines.
NHS guidelines state that the average adult should eat no more than 30 grams of sugar per day or 210 grams per week
Option one – a single bar of dairy milk – contains a whopping 201.6 grams of sugar, meaning the first option in the image is the only one that falls within the NHS target, as long as it is consumed over the course of a week. However, this leaves only 8.4 grams of free sugars for the rest of the week’s meals and drinks.
The NHS sugar limits only apply to free sugars – the sugars added to products – and not to the sugars naturally found in milk, fruit and vegetables.
But the other sweet snack combinations shown in MailOnline’s chart easily exceed NHS guidelines.
Campaigners told MailOnline they want a stricter policy from the Government that will force food manufacturers to reduce the sugar content in their products – because many treats are impossible to enjoy if you stay within the 30g per day limit.
Those who ate one bar of dairy milk and five chocolate treats (the second option in the chart on this website) over the course of a week would consume 225.6 grams of sugar.
This combination, plus a container of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough, contains 327.9 grams.
Those who then also consume two Mars bars over seven days would eat a whopping 389.9 grams of sugar – almost double the NHS target.
Campaign leader at Action on Sugar, Dr Kawther Hashem, said: ‘While it is important to inform the public about the maximum daily limit, many adults are not aware of this information.
‘We therefore need strict government policies for the food industry, to ensure that they reduce the sugar content in their daily products and protect our health from preventable diseases and premature deaths.’
Many people, unaware of controlled sugar levels, fill their lunches with chips, chocolate and cookies to get through the workday.
Data from the British Nutrition Foundation shows that the average woman actually consumes 44 grams of sugar, while men consume 55 grams of sugar.
But if you enjoy a bar of chocolate during your lunch break, you can quickly eat most of the government-recommended ‘free sugars’ throughout the week.
In addition to the limit of 30 grams of free sugars per day, the government recommends that these sugars should not account for more than 5 percent of the calories a person consumes daily through food and drink.
This means a bar of chocolate every day for your lunch – which is available 10 to 31 g of sugar – can almost guarantee you’ll go over the limit every day.
Campaigners are now calling for tougher policies from the government, as many British treats make it almost unrealistic to enjoy a snack while maintaining a balanced diet, as just one of these treats can eat up the majority of your sugar supply for the week.
If you’d rather enjoy a little treat while watching TV in the evening, this can make it nearly impossible to stick to those strict guidelines.
But some combinations fall within the NHS sugar limits of 210 grams per week.
These include six Mars Bars (186g), two Terry’s Chocolate Orange Milk Balls (185.26g) or two tubs of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream (204.6g).
Two packets of McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Digestives Biscuits (151.62g) and two bags of Haribo Starmix (164.5g) are also within NHS guidelines if consumed over the course of seven days.
Nutritionist Nichola Ludlam-Raine, based in Leeds, said: ‘It’s a stark reminder that enjoying even one of these treats can eat up a significant proportion, if not all, of our weekly sugar intake, excluding sugars from drinks and regular meals.
‘The guidelines may seem strict, but they are intended to encourage a shift in our consumption patterns towards more wholesome, nutrient-dense foods and away from sugar-laden processed products.
‘While it’s fine to enjoy treats occasionally, it’s essential to consider their sugar content and balance them with other nutrient-dense foods.’
Sugar is one of the biggest culprits fueling Britain’s bulging waistline.
One in four adults and 23 percent of children aged 10 to 11 in England are overweight, making Britain one of the countries in Europe most affected by obesity, after Malta and Turkey.
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, preferably whole grains, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 portions of varied fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables count
• Basic meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, preferably whole wheat
• 30 grams of fiber per day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of whole wheat bread and large baked potato with skin on
• Provide some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks), opting for lower fat and lower sugar options
• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish per week, one portion of which is fatty)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume them in small quantities
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water per day
• Adults should have less than 6 g of salt and 20 g of saturated fat for women or 30 g for men per day
Source: NHS Eatwell guide