Sugar main

Around 63% of adults in the UK are either overweight or obese. Excess weight gain occurs when you consume more calories (energy) than you need. Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of heart disease. Sugar provides energy and consuming too much can lead to weight gain. We provide some tips for lowering your intake of sugary foods and drinks to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Check food labels

When checking food labels be aware that added sugar can be listed in a variety of ways, such as sucrose, glucose, maltose, fructose, dextrose, honey, syrup, molasses, treacle or fruit juice concentrates. The food label may also provide information on how much sugar is contained.

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Low in sugar

Foods that are low in sugar contain 5g or less of total sugars per 100g

High in sugar

Foods that are high in sugar contain 22.5g or more of total sugars per 100g

To help you make healthier choices, a free food scanner app is available from Change4life, more information can be found here:

  • Save sugary foods and drinks for an occasional sweet treat

We all like to have a treat from time to time, but if we consume sugary foods and drinks too often, it can be a risk to our health. Sugar is added to many commonly consumed food and drink products, such as cakes, biscuits, puddings, sweets, chocolate, soft drinks and sweetened yoghurts. Try to limit the amount of these foods and drinks in your diet by eating them less often and in smaller portions.    

  • Reduce sugar in your drinks

If you usually add sugar to hot drinks, why not cut back gradually on the amount of sugar you add, until you can cut it out altogether.  Alternatively, you could opt for an artificial sweetener, however this will not help you to adjust your taste preference for less sugary drinks.

Try swapping sugary soft drinks for water, sugar-free or reduced-sugar drinks. Unsweetened fruit juices and smoothies also contain sugar so try to limit your intake to no more than 150ml a day.

  • Reduce your sugar intake at breakfast time

Frosted, chocolate or honey-covered breakfast cereals tend to be high in sugar. Try replacing these with unsweetened wholegrain breakfast cereals. For added sweetness, you could top your breakfast cereal with fruit, such as sliced bananas or berries and this will also contribute to your 5 a day.

  • Switch to low-sugar desserts

For a low-sugar dessert try adding fruit to a low-fat and low-sugar yoghurt. If using tinned fruit, choose tins in juice rather than syrup. If you cannot resist a sugary pudding, eating a smaller portion is a better option as it will contain less sugar than a regular-sized portion.

  • What about the sugars contained in fruit?

Fruit contains naturally occurring sugars as well as fibre, vitamins, minerals and water. In this combination fruit is generally regarded as being good for our health. Eating at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day is recommended as part of a healthy balanced diet.

  • Are honey and brown sugar healthy options?

Although they are often marketed as healthier options, brown sugar and honey are not better for you than white sugar. These products are simply different forms of sugar and they are all high in calories. Brown sugar is the same as white sugar, with a small amount of molasses added in to give it a brown colour and a different flavour. Although honey is a natural product, it has a low nutritional value and it is also high in calories. Therefore, you should try to reduce your intake of honey and brown sugar as well as other types of sugar and syrups.

  • Further information

If you would like further information on weight management, you can get advice and support from the NHS:

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