Sugar in foods – the UK shopper’s response

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Food scares are becoming an increasingly regular occurrence and 2014 has proved to be no exception; the year started with the UK press launching an attack on the dangers of sugar in people’s diets. Hysterical headlines read “Sugar is the new tobacco” and “Sugar, not fat, is real heart disease killer”. Foods high in sugar looked set to be cast out of consumer shopping baskets for good.

However British Mum’s know best and there is no sign of them changing what they put into their shopping baskets. Despite the recent media storm 8 out of 10 mums say the sugar in foods debate has not influenced their buying habits.

In a poll that we conducted with BritMums, Britain’s biggest collective of lifestyle bloggers and social influencers, 84.5%, of those who took part, said that their buying habits were staying the same.

sugar graph

Of those who did admit to being swayed by the media, most (10.9%) said that they would now be buying less juice for their children. Juices and fizzy drinks are amongst the products highlighted most often for containing too much sugar.

The debate around the levels of sugar in food has overtaken discussions on salt and saturated fat, when it comes to media coverage.

The glossy Sundays have produced pull-out guides, there have been TV documentaries and the chatter on social media is growing. It’s enough to get the pulses racing and to push up the blood pressure levels of the bosses at our major food and drink manufacturers.

But it appears that Britain’s mums are made of sterner stuff, for now at least. It takes time for attitudes to change and remember coverage only reached a peak at the turn of the year. So there is no room for complacency. The ex-journalist in me tells me that this is a story that is going to run and run.

There is an opportunity here for those who are bold, to steal a march on the more nervous within the industry.

So, stop being a bystander and start influencing the debate:

Listen to what is being said

  • Check your facts and stats
  • Make the most of your experts
  • Know what you are going to say
  • Train up your spokespeople
  • Ø And grab the opportunities that come your way


There are many strong, positive stories to tell. At the moment those stories are struggling to be heard.


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