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Heart doctors get together to campaign against hidden sugar in foods

Action on Sugar is a new campaign group with a big aim; to reduce the amount of sugar in processed food and drink in the UK

Quiz time. How many teaspoons of sugar are in a tall, skinny Starbucks frappuccino with whipped cream? Two? Three? Try eleven. Added sugar is everywhere. From drinks and yoghurts to soups and sauces. As Healthista found out when they met with David Gillespie, sugar can pop up in all kinds of unusual places.

From the same group that brought CASH (Consensus Action on Salt and Health) to the UK in the 1990s, a new campaign called Action on Sugar has been set up to help tackle obesity and diabetes in the UK. It aims to make people aware of the hidden sugars in products, as well as helping manufacturers to start thinking about lowering sugar from the get-go. By reducing a little at a time, consumers will be able to get used to the changes in flavour, they believe. In three to five years time, they think there will be a 20 to 30 per cent reduction.


Nearly two thirds of people in the UK are overweight or obese. Action on Sugar’s chairman Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Wolfston Institute said it is time to tackle this obesity epidemic in the UK and worldwide.

‘This is a simple plan which gives a level playing field to the food industry,’ he said. ‘It  must be adopted by the Department of Health to reduce the completely unnecessary and very large amounts of sugar the food and soft drink industry is currently adding to our food.’

Dr Aseem Malhotra, the science director of Action on Sugar also pointed out that as well as obesity, added sugar increases risks of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and fatty liver without having any nutritional value or feeling of satiety.

Here’s a hong of how much sugar hides in your food:

How hidden sugar adds up in everyday foods:

  • Canned corn ½ teaspoon per 100g
  • Ketchup just under 1 teaspoon per tablespoon
  • Baked beans 1-2 teaspoons per half can
  • Savoury crackers 3 teaspoons per 100 g – about four crackers
  • Fruit flavoured yoghurt drink (Yop) 15 teaspoons per 250ml bottle

Find out more on their website,, or follow them on Twitter at @actiononsugar



Tips to cut back on sugar


Sugar hidden in ‘healthy’ drinks

Sugar hidden in ‘healthy’ foods

How to give up sugar and lose weight

The truth about sweeteners



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