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UK consumers seek sugar lows

More than one in four UK shoppers (27%) actively looks for products with low sugar content, but they’re not always happy with what’s on offer.

Polling carried out across the UK, Germany, Italy, France and Sweden shows that more than 60% of people now monitor their sugar intake. However, labels remain confusing and consumers are not convinced that artificial sweeteners are the way to go.

The research, published by Sensus, suggests that “sugar reduction is not a straightforward issue”.

“One of the biggest hurdles in encouraging consumers to eat more healthily is that people generally enjoy sweet taste, especially children. Artificial sweeteners do increase sweetness, but consumer perceptions of them have waned in recent years,” the researchers concluded.

More than half (55%) of those surveyed claimed that the type of sweetener used in reduced sugar food products influences their buying choice. In the UK the figure is 40%.

This could open the door to natural alternatives. Indeed, 43% of respondents said there were not enough popular food products available with health benefits.

The survey was completed in June 2015. Since then sugar has become public health enemy number one. Last month the UK government announced the introduction of a sugar tax on some soft drinks.

In some European countries sugar intake is as high as 17% of total energy intake, far above the 10% recommended. Limiting this to 5% to would provide additional health benefits, according to the World Health Organisation.