Dr Tom Simmons
Cambridge University Sugars Specialist and Co-Founder of Sugarwise
A new food labelling campaign aims to help consumers identify foods with added sugar and curb the nation’s unhealthy love affair with the nutritional enemy.
As a nation, we Britons have a sweet tooth. So sweet in fact that, according to the NHS, we’re consuming around 700g of sugar each week, which equates to 140 teaspoons of the stuff. This is far, far more than the government’s suggested 210g a week.
Our unhealthy relationship with sugar has seen obesity levels in the UK more than treble over the past 30 years and puts us at great risk of illnesses such as heart disease, a stroke and type 2 diabetes. There’s no shortage of media coverage on the issue, but breaking the habit and reducing our sugar consumption is easier said than done. One of the greatest problems is the fact that a lot of sugars are hidden in food we don’t even think about.
Cambridge University scientist, Dr Tom Simmons, is part of the team behind Sugarwise, an organisation that wants to make the nation healthier by providing more healthy options and better labelling for food.
The truth is, not all sugar is bad. Naturally occurring sugars, found in whole fruit, vegetables and milk-based products are good for us. However, free sugars added to foods and drinks and found naturally in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates are not – and it’s this type of sugar we’re consuming too much of.
“Free sugars added to food don’t fill you up like other sugars do so you are more likely to overeat and convert them to fat,” says Dr Simmons. Much like the Fairtrade stamp of approval, Sugarwise have developed a label to help consumers identify products that are low in free sugars.
Alongside labelling they are also trying to increase the number of truly healthy options available. Products such as the Diablo range of chocolate, biscuits and muesli bars claim to maintain the sweet taste we love, without the unhealthy calorie count. They are one of the companies that proudly carry the Sugarwise logo (pictured below) and hope to change the habits of the nation.