British attitudes to sugar

A poll of over 1,000 people in the UK from Swiss sweetener brand Hermesetas reveals many aren’t aware of how much sugar they are actually consuming.

4 September 2019
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image credit: Getty Images

  • Two out of three UK adults worry about their sugar intake.
  • Women and younger adults are the most likely to have concerns – 67% of women versus 61% of men and 69% of 16- to 29-year-olds compared to 38% of over-60s.
  • But 29% of Brits treat themselves to something sweet if they feel like it or think they deserve it.
  • 43% of 16- to 29-year olds say they found it hard to stop eating products with the sweet stuff, compared to just 29% of over-60s.
  • 64% believe that sugar reduction is important when they are trying to lose weight.
  • Two out of five adults keep track of their calorie intake, with young working-age adults far more likely to count calories – 51% of 26- to 29-year-olds, compared to just 5% of over-60s.
  • Yet, seven out of 10 adults do not actually know how much sugar they can safely consume.
  • 68% admit they do not check the sugar in ready meals, which is often overlooked as a source of the sweet stuff.
  • 64% do not check the sugar in breakfast cereals.
  • Three out of five adults say they would replace sugar in recipes if it could be done easily.
  • Almost a third of adults believe honey is the healthiest form of sweetener and 28% have thought about using honey or molasses instead of sugar when cooking.
  • 58% have never used a low-calorie sweetener instead of sugar in tea or coffee and 65% have not used low-calorie sweeteners when cooking or baking.


“There is consensus that current sugar intakes are far too high and reducing consumption of rapidly absorbed free sugars has been identified as a health priority,” nutritionist Dr Emma Derbyshire said.“But how can consumers achieve the new sugar reduction targets when they don't know what they are, and they are not checking how much sugar is in the foods they eat?”

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