The Sugar Debate

lump-sugar-549096_1920Who is to blame for all the sugar we consume?  Can we really pin the blame down? Will sugar tax work? This is a debate which can and most probably will run and run.  Sugar has fast become public enemy number one, but could common sense be the answer?

Some would say manufacturers are to blame, others would say we as consumers are, there could also be the point of view that it’s an addiction which isn’t as simple to kick as we’d like to think.  No matter, who or why, we have a problem as a nation which isn’t going to go away on its own, we all need to act collectively to address this if we are to see any changes.

The facts are that we eat too much sugar, there’s no dodging that, or fancying it up, and we need to cut back both on processed and natural forms of sugar if we are to help tackle the diseases our sweet tooth’s have bestowed upon us from diabetes to obesity.  Look no further than the UK NHS report for some hard-hitting statistics, a couple of which are here;

  • In 2014, 58% of women and 65% of men were overweight or obese. Obesity prevalence has increased from 15% in 1993 to 26% in 2014.
  • In 2014/15, more than 1 in 5 children in Reception, and 1 in 3 children in Year 6 were measured as obese or overweight. Children in most deprived areas are twice as likely to be obese than children in least deprived areas.

We have become so used to being able to consume anything we want any time we want, and everything we could wish to eat being readily available all year round, and sometimes actively pushed at us.

strawberries-1398159_1920I can just about remember when strawberries were a ‘treat’ and I would eat that many once every year when I went strawberry picking in my local fields that I would come out in a rash!  I can also recall ‘the’ tin of chocolates at Christmas, yes, just the one tin of Quality Street or Roses which would sit in the lounge near the TV, and we would be allowed one or maybe 2 at night after tea, it would last and the whole family would share it.

We need to take a common-sense approach as consumers; everything in moderation, we need to be re-educated.  We do need sugar in our diets, just as we need other foods, but the scales have well and truly tipped in the favour of excess, and it’s that which needs to be balanced in order to tackle rising global health problems.

I think if we as consumers play our part in actively reducing the amount we consume, and manufacturers can play their part too in reducing the sugar content in foods we can bring about the significant change of better health which as a nation is desperately needed.   It was encouraging to read Nestle have taken a stand to do just this, hopefully more will follow.

Claire will be speaking on food & drink trends at Speciality & Fine Food Fair, 3rd – 5th September, Olympia London. Find out more.

By Claire Brumby – The Food Guide