Opinion

Sugar reduction aims thwarted by sweetener confusion

Professor Buttriss: ‘Sugar intakes are deemed too high’

Sugar does more than sweeten foods – it provides bulk and has functional attributes that are difficult to replicate, such as moisture management and shelf-life, texture and flavour generation.

But sugar intakes are deemed too high.

The sugar-reduction toolkit includes high intensity sweeteners and polyols.

Low-calorie sweetening agents

Use of these low-calorie sweetening agents is backed by the European Food Safety Authority and referenced indirectly in Change4Life and the Eatwell Guide, which suggest swapping ‘sugary soft drinks for diet, sugar-free or no added sugar varieties to reduce your sugar intake’.

Yet, standing in the path of these tools are consumer attitudes, examples of poor representation of the scientific evidence (bit.ly/2izPjoP), and regulatory restrictions.

Products with no added sugar

Use is not permitted in some categories, eg some baked goods, and high intensity sweeteners and polyols can only be used in products with no added sugar or where calories have been cut by 30%.

These restrictions add to the technical challenges with sugar reduction, leading to calls for rules to be relaxed, where feasible, and more leadership in combating confused messaging about safety and the benefits of these ingredients in sugar and calorie reduction strategies.

  • Professor Judy Buttriss is director general of the British Nutrition Foundation

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