The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), has recommended the average daily intake of sugar in the UK to be halved. This aims to reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and improve overall dental health. This interesting BBC News Article on Sugar Intakes highlights the role of consumers, retailers and the food and drinks industry in taking steps towards this dietary change.
But will this be easy to achieve? Well I think there are definitely some challenges ahead, both in terms of changing consumer behaviour, but also for food and drink developers. Moving towards alternative sweetening options such as natural and artificial sweeteners is not a simple task of replacing like for like. Removing or replacing sugars and can severely affect the sensory characteristics of products not just by impacting the sweetness, but also the overall flavour and how it is delivered, the texture and mouthfeel of the product and the after-effects after swallowing. This makes any changes, even small ones, easy for consumers to notice and can lead to disliking and rejecting the low sugar formulation.
This reminds me of The Sugar Debate we had at work. Recently MMR carried out a quick online poll asking people whether sugars or artificial sweeteners concerned them most in their foods and drinks. Interestingly 33% of consumers were concerned by sugar, whilst 29% were concerned by aspartame and 4% by sucralose. Perhaps the recommendations from the SACN will increase concern over sugar and make the first steps towards adapting consumer diets.