Article written by Aira Digital Ltd and Protectivity. Using 2017/18 human consumption data from the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Administration, insurance provider Protectivity has worked out which countries consume the most sugar per capita.

Sugar is likely to be in nearly all of our favourite foods, drinks and snacks, and for many of us, our daily intake exceeds far beyond the recommended amount. With obesity levels rising across the world, action is finally being taken to reduce this and improve people’s overall health. Governments are desperately trying to curb the globe’s sugar cravings, from healthy eating campaigns, zero sugar alternatives, and the most recently talked about, sugar tax implementation. Unfortunately, it appears that global consumption of this sweet stuff continues to soar, as this year it’s been predicted figures will exceed 177 tons. But where in the world is the sugar intake still at worrying heights?

UK insurance provider Protectivity has analysed data on human sugar consumption figures to discover which countries are consuming the most sugar per capita, and some of the results may surprise you.

The top ten biggest sugar consumers are:

  1. United Arab Emirates – 214 kg per person, per year

  2. Djibouti – 193 kg per person, per year

  3. Belize – 106  kg per person, per year

  4. Bahrain – 93  kg per person, per year

  5. Mauritania – 87  kg per person, per year

  6. Cuba – 68  kg per person, per year

  7. Belarus – 62  kg per person, per year

  8. Guyana – 60 kg per person, per year

  9. Malaysia – 57 kg per person, per year

  10. Israel – 56 kg per person, per year

The United Arab Emirates takes first place with a whopping 213 kilograms per person, which is a staggering 53,591 teaspoons. Per day that is a worrying 147 teaspoons per person on average. With the recommended sugar allowance being just 30 grams (5 teaspoons) for people aged 11 and over, UAE sees figures nearly 30 times higher than this.

With a rise in cases of obesity and diabetes, with 19.3% of the UAE population between the ages of 20 and 79 having type 2 diabetes, a public and government concern for the health of the country has seen the implementation of a hefty tax on sugary drinks and cigarettes back in October 2017.   Dubbed as the ‘sin’ tax because of the unhealthy and addictive qualities of tobacco, caffeine and sugar, a 50% charge has been put on soda and a 100% charge on energy drinks and tobacco products.

The top ten smallest sugar consumers are:

  1. North Korea – 0.11 kg per person

  2. Afghanistan – 1 kg per person

  3. Niger – 1 kg per person

  4. The Democratic Republic of the Congo – 2 kg per person

  5. Chad – 2 kg per person

  6. Paraguay – 2 kg per person

  7. Guinea-Bissau – 3 kg per person

  8. Central African Republic – 3 kg per person

  9. Burundi – 3 kg per person

  10. Burkina Faso – 3 kg per person

At just 118 grams per person each year, North Korea’s sugar consumption doesn’t even make it to one full teaspoon, however it’s worth considering the limited data we have on North Korea. The country with the second least amount of sugar consumed is Afghanistan. The results of all the countries analysed shows a real mix in where the biggest sugar consumers are. With the likes of the UK coming in as the world’s 68th biggest consumers with 30 kilograms per person each year, and the US coming in at 54th. In Europe, Belarus has the sweetest tooth, with 62 kilograms consumed each year per person.

Time will tell on whether implementations such as the sugar tax will make much of an impact when it comes to reducing people’s sugar consumption levels.