The Death of Diet: The hidden sugars causing a headache for food marketers

18 Feb 2014

A key trend for 2014 is the ‘Death of Diet’. The challenge of reconciling consumers’ desire for greater indulgence with the rapidly growing epidemic of obesity is quickly becoming a major issue for every food marketer …

Did you know that according to government figures almost two-thirds of adults and one third of UK children are overweight or obese? A further statistic that confirms our unhealthy love affair with the sweet stuff is the fact we are ranked fifth in the table of the world’s most obese nations – a position we could only dream of in the FIFA world rankings.

But it’s fair to say most of us are probably unaware of just how much sugar is in the products we buy on a weekly basis. The average Brit consumes 238 teaspoons worth a week – or 24kg a year, roughly the same weight as a four-year-old child.

Channel 4’s recent Dispatches programme ‘Are You Addicted to Sugar’, has again brought Britain’s eating habits under the spotlight and has set alarm bells ringing for many in terms of their sugar intake.

In the 1980s the low-fat revolution first gained some pace and the message was simple: The lower the fat content in a product, the better it will be for you health. But that isn’t entirely correct. Removing the fat from the food often made it unpalatable, so this is where sugar enjoyed a renaissance. By adding what falls under the carbohydrate category, the product could maintain the taste of its predecessor while still being labelled ‘low-fat’.

With many of us leading busy work and social lives these days, many reach for the convenience foods, whether it is a takeaway from down the road, a burger on the go or a microwave meal at the end of a long day. What a lot of people aren’t doing is realising the amount of hidden sugars in everyday products.

But next time you’re queuing in the coffee shop for your morning white chocolate mocha with cream, just ask yourself: Do I really want to start my day off by consuming more sugar than there is found in two cans of coke? The answer is probably not.

So as a marketer, what are you planning to do about it?

Written by  David Goudge