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As the obesity debate continues to capture the nation’s attention, a new campaign launches today, Making Sense of Sugar, to help inform and educate people about sugar, the role it can play as part of a healthy balanced diet, and to help people to make better informed choices about what they consume.

Based on robust science and facts, the long-term campaign, by AB Sugar, will provide information about sugar in a way which is simple, straightforward and informative. Additionally, it will address the myths around sugar and obesity and help people better understand the link between the energy (calories) they consume versus the energy (calories) they expend.

The campaign kicks-off with the launch of the www.makingsenseofsugar.com website. It is packed with the latest facts and stats, clarifying some of the confusion behind sugars. The website debunks myths, provides tips on healthy eating and staying active, as well as helping consumers learn about the different types of sugars and how they are used, through to simple guidance on how to identify sugars within foodstuffs.

As part of the campaign, AB Sugar has also commissioned an independent report in partnership with 2020Health, exploring potential policy solutions to the current obesity epidemic.*

Mark Carr, CEO of AB Sugar, commented: “This campaign forms part of a long-term, sustained investment from AB Sugar and, as a responsible business, reflects our commitment to help tackle the UK’s obesity challenge.

Obesity is a complex issue that has no single cause. Current scientific consensus points to the over-consumption of calories in all its forms and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, rather than obesity being a result of a single ingredient, such as sugar. In fact, as obesity rates continue to rise total sugars in the diet have actually fallen by almost 12% per capita in the past decade.**

We believe that there is an important job to be done to help empower consumers to make informed choices and to balance their overall calorie intake and diet. Tackling the obesity epidemic requires collaborative action and we are committed to playing our part.”

Sharon Fisher, Communications Manager of AB Sugar, commented: “We’ve launched Making Sense of Sugar to inform and educate people about sugar. Our research has found that there is much confusion around health and obesity, especially where sugar is concerned.

With this campaign, we want to provide factual and helpful information, where people who may be confused or simply want to learn more about sugar can do so and we encourage anyone with an interest in sugar to visit the website and follow us on Twitter to get the latest campaign news and updates.”

Visit the Making Sense of Sugar website www.makingsenseofsugar.com, watch an informative new video and follow the campaign at @senseofsugar.

For further information, please call 0207 492 0975 or email press@absugar.com.

Notes to editors

* Additionally, AB Sugar will continue to support independent scientific work and research on the role of sugar in the diet and health working with bodies such as Sugar Nutrition UK (SNUK), The South African Sugar Association (SASA) and The Spanish Sugar Institute, (Instituto de Estudios Documentales del Azúcar y la Remolacha - IEDAR).

Funding has also been provided to enable the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) to undertake an independent impact assessment of its education work in schools, which is based on the government’s ‘eatwell plate’ and eight tips for healthy eating. BNF is directly responsible for the establishment of the intervention, methodology and project management with no input or involvement from AB Sugar. An independent third-party (university) will also collate data from the impact assessment and draw conclusions from the results. No new classroom teaching resources will be developed.

** As obesity rates continue to rise total sugars in the diet have actually fallen by almost 12% per capita in the past decade:
https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/familyfood- statistics

Key facts about sugar:

• Approximately half (45–60%) of our energy intake should come from carbohydrates (these include sugars and starches). The rest of the diet should be made up of protein (12–15%) and fat (between 30–35%, as % of energy)
http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/doc/1462.pdf
• The Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) of sugars for an adult is 90g for women and 120g for men.
http://www.gdalabel.org.uk/gda/gda_values.aspx
• Sugar has four calories per gram, which compares to protein (four calories), fat (nine calories), and alcohol (seven calories)
The UK Scientific Advisory Committee On Nutrition (SACN) draft report on Carbohydrates and Health is a comprehensive and thorough review.  
 
As the report recognises, it is important to remember that obesity is a complex issue.
 
The overwhelming scientific evidence points to the over consumption of total calories across all food groups, rather than a single ingredient, and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles as the primary causes of obesity.
 
The job to be done is to help consumers understand the importance of balancing energy (calories) in and energy (calories) out and to empower people to make their own informed and healthy choices. 
 
Given the importance of total calories we are surprised to see that the Committee has come to a draft recommendation to halve the consumption of free sugars on a population wide level to around 5%.
 
In reality this sets a level that will be very difficult for most people to meet. For example, this would be the equivalent of consuming the sugars found in a small glass of orange juice and a 125 gram yoghurt per day.
 
At this same time the Committee has also made a draft recommendation for individuals that free sugars should be no more than 10% of total calorie intake. This runs the risk of confusing consumers even further.  
 
Tackling the obesity epidemic requires collaborative action to help consumers better manage and balance their overall calorie intake, diet and lifestyle. We are committed to playing our part.
 
Richard Pike, Managing Director, British Sugar 

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey findings underline the importance of us all consuming a healthy balanced diet.

We believe we all have a part to play in helping people, including children, understand what constitutes a healthy and active lifestyle. Education is at the heart of this.

As a responsible business, we are also supportive of measures that help people better manage their overall calorie intake and diet. This includes reformulation of food and drink products (including the reduction of sugars), where it results in a reduction in total calories. Taking out or reducing sugars in foods can mean, however, that the total calorie count goes up.

It is important to remember that obesity is a complex issue that is the result of an over consumption of calories and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles.

We are committed to providing people with accurate information to help them make informed choices about the food and drink they consume.

Richard Pike, Managing Director, British Sugar

Lack of knowledge leading to obesity crisis in the UK

• Vast majority of Brits (94%) don’t regularly track their calorie intake
• Half of people (51%) wrongly believe there is such a thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ sugar
• Only a tenth of adults (10%) regularly keep fit
• AB Sugar calls for more to be done to arm people with information on how to live a healthy lifestyle

London, 29 April 2014 – The country is in a state of confusion about the food we put into our bodies, according to new research from AB Sugar. As a result people are not keeping track of the energy (calories) they consume versus the energy (calories) they burn off, which is contributing to the obesity epidemic currently gripping the UK. More must be done to help arm people with the right information in order to help them live a healthy lifestyle.

With 94% of Brits only occasionally or never tracking their daily calorie intake, it’s not surprising that there is so much confusion surrounding the food we eat. The research, which polled 2,000 British consumers, revealed:
• Over a third (35%) did not know that fish, chicken and eggs are good sources of protein;
• Almost a third (28%) didn’t know rice, bread and pasta are high in carbohydrates; and
• Over a quarter (28%) did not know that cream, oil and butter are high in fat.
Perhaps more worryingly, half of women (49%) and three fifths of men (64%) also wrongly guessed or simply stated they didn’t know what their recommended daily calorie intake should be in the first place*.

The recent media focus on sugar also appears to have contributed to a few wrongly held misconceptions. Just over half (51%) of Brits believe that there is such a thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ sugar, when instead all sugars, whether honey, white granulated, brown sugar, or even the sugars found in an apple are treated the same by our bodies. Vast numbers of people (98%) also didn’t know that sugar only has 16 calories per teaspoon (4g). In fact the average guess was five times higher at 89 calories.

This lack of understanding paints a particularly worrying picture when considering the nation’s increasingly sedentary lifestyles. The research reveals that over half of Brits (54%) confessed that they do absolutely no sport and, what’s more, the majority of over 55s (70%) never play any sport, compared to two fifths of 25-34 year olds. In fact only a tenth of adults (10%) stated they play sport regularly**.

Dr Julian Cooper, Head of Food Science at AB Sugar said: “There’s no denying that the country is currently fighting an uphill battle against obesity but, as our research suggests, consumers are completely overwhelmed by the amount of information they receive about what to put into their bodies.

“Current scientific research points to the over-consumption of calories and a lack of exercise as one of the major factors in rising obesity levels. Our bodies need energy (calories) to function, but when we provide it with more energy than it needs, it leads to our bodies storing the extra energy, which in turn results in us putting on weight.

“It’s clear from our research that it’s not just a lack of understanding about calorie consumption and expenditure that is causing a problem, but confusion about the different food groups, their role in our diet and how to balance it all. It’s therefore crucial that we all start working together to get on top of the points of confusion and to provide consumers with the facts and science needed to help them confidently make informed decisions about their own lifestyle choices.”


Notes

The online survey was conducted by OnePoll amongst 2,000 UK adults 18+ between 16th December 2013 and 23rd December 2013.

*The NHS states an average man needs around 2,500 calories a day to maintain his weight. For an average woman, that figure is around 2,000 calories a day. 

** Physical activity guidelines by the NHS recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities per week.

For further information, please call 0207 492 0975 or email press@absugar.com.

 
When attempting to tackle an issue as complex as obesity in the UK, we believe we all have an important role to play. We read the Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer with great interest and agree that this is an issue that must be addressed.
 
Our research* for example shows that over half of UK adults (54%) don’t meet the basic physical activity guidelines recommended by the NHS. Coupled with this, consumers don’t keep track of their daily calorie intake.
 
The result is that many people are not managing to balance the fuel (calories) they consume, with the fuel (calories) they burn off. Increasingly sedentary lifestyles and an over consumption of calories is causing a rise in obesity. 
 
Singling out sugar as a lead cause of this, therefore, is misleading and confusing for consumers – particularly when Government Family Food statistics show that there has actually been a reduction of almost 12%** in total sugar consumption per capita in the UK over the past decade.
 
We are absolutely supportive though of reducing sugars as part of reformulation when it results in an overall reduction in calories. Taking or reducing sugars out of food can, in certain circumstances mean, however, that the calorie count goes up.
 
With regard to the CMO’s comments on sugar tax, we believe it’s important to note that there is no conclusive evidence that this would have the desired effect on consumer behaviour. Instead, we believe the public would benefit from a better overall understanding of what constitutes a healthy balanced diet.
 
As a responsible business, we are committed to providing accurate information based on the facts and science to help consumers make informed choices about the food and drink they consume.
 
Richard Pike
Managing Director, British Sugar

References

* Food Intake Survey, conducted by One Poll on behalf of AB Sugar in December 2013 with a representative sample of 2,000 UK adults

**Annual statistics about food and drink purchases in the UK (DEFRA) https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/family-food-statistics
We welcome the World Health Organisation’s* acknowledgement that “energy balance is critical to maintaining a healthy body weight”** and its continued recommendation that intake of sugars not exceed 10% of total energy. We are supportive of measures that help people better manage their overall calorie intake and diet.  
 
We are concerned, however, that the WHO has suggested an ambition and conditional recommendation to reduce total daily energy intake of sugars to below 5%. While it acknowledges that there is uncertainty*** in support of this recommendation, and that substantial debate is needed, this proposal may mislead and confuse the public.
 
Sugar is just one source of calories, and reducing intake of it alone will not solve the obesity crisis, for which there is no quick fix. In fact, Government Family Food statistics show that there has actually been a reduction of almost 12%**** in total sugar consumption per capita in the UK over the past decade.
 
The overwhelming body of scientific evidence is that it is the over consumption of total calories across all food groups and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles that is driving obesity rates.
 
It is important therefore to help educate everyone on the importance of balancing energy (calories) in and energy (calories) out, and to provide accurate information based on facts and science so that the public can make considered decisions about sugar and what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet.
 
Richard Pike
Managing Director, British Sugar
 
 
References
 
* Prepared by the World Health Organisation’s Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group (Subgroup on Diet and Health)
 
** Draft Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children, World Health Organisation (05/03/14) http://www.who.int/nutrition/sugars_public_consultation/en/
 
*** Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children (05/03/14), Page 3, World Health Organisation 
 
***** Annual statistics about food and drink purchases in the UK (DEFRA) https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/family-food-statistics
AB Sugar is supportive of measures that help people better manage their diet and address some of the key health concerns in the UK such as obesity.
 
However, obesity is a complex issue and a result of many different lifestyle factors - there is no silver bullet to solving this problem.
 
There is no conclusive evidence that a sugar tax would have the desired effect on consumer behaviour and lead people to make the right decisions about their health and diet.
 
In fact, Government figures show that there has actually been a reduction of almost 12%* in total sugar consumption in the UK over the last decade. 
 
We believe instead that the public would benefit from a better overall understanding of what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet by providing them with accurate information based on facts and science.
 
Richard Pike
Managing Director, British Sugar
 
References

 *Annual statistics about food and drink purchases in the UK (DEFRA) https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/family-food-statistics
 
 
We are currently reviewing the draft guideline on sugars intake published today by the World Health Organisation* and will be providing comment on the findings and draft recommendation in due course.
 
Over the past few months we have seen sugar singled out as a lead cause of obesity in the UK. There is no silver bullet to solving the obesity crisis which is the result of a complex range of factors. We welcome and are supportive of measures that help people better manage their calorie intake, diet and health.
 
The overwhelming body of scientific evidence, however, points to a cause of over-consumption of total calories and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles as the lead cause of obesity. This is causing an imbalance between energy (calories) in and energy (calories) out.
 
Government Family Food statistics here in the UK show that there has actually been a reduction of almost 12%** in total sugar consumption over the last decade. We believe the public would benefit from a better overall understanding of the food and drink they consume.


References
 
* Prepared by the World Health Organisation’s Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group (Subgroup on Diet and Health)
**Annual statistics about food and drink purchases in the UK (DEFRA) https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/family-food-statistics

 
Research shows that lifestyle and lack of knowledge are fuelling obesity debate.
 
• Two thirds of UK adults don’t track their daily calorie intake
• 2 in 5 adults don’t factor in calories found in liquids as part of their daily calorie intake
• Over a third of adults never take into account how much energy (calories) they consume

As the country is mulling over the latest diets to shed the pounds, new research commissioned by AB Sugar finds that over half of UK adults (54%) don’t meet basic physical activity guidelines recommended by the NHS* and don’t partake in any sport whatsoever; with less than one in ten (10%) stating they keep fit and play sport regularly. What’s more, two thirds of Brits (67%) don’t track their daily calorie intake, with a quarter of those (26%) admitting it’s because they don’t know how to. A further three in five (60%) say they don’t see tracking their daily calories as important.

With a significant lack of awareness of what Brits are putting into their bodies, half of women (49%) and almost two thirds of men (64%) wrongly guessed or simply stated they didn’t know their recommended daily calorie intake**. More than two in five adults (43%) also reveal they don’t factor in calories found in liquids such as soft drinks and juices, risking underestimating their daily calorie intake.

Crucially, a significant proportion of those questioned rarely or never take into account how much energy in the form of calories they consume in a day versus how much they use up – 22% and 35% respectively, which can potentially lead to over-eating against their recommended daily calorie intake. Significantly, half of UK adults (51%) also have no idea what their Body Mass Index (BMI)*** is, as two in five of those who do know (38%) have a BMI that is deemed unhealthy by the NHS****.

Dr Julian Cooper, Head of Food Science at AB Sugar said: “Our research shows that many people do not understand the simple equation of fuel in, fuel out, highlighting one of the key problems at the heart of the UK obesity epidemic.  The truth is that if you consume too many calories, eat and drink too much of any type of food or drink, and then do not burn these excess calories off, you will put on weight.

“Unfortunately there is no silver bullet to solving the UK obesity crisis. The overwhelming body of scientific evidence points to a range of factors, including the over-consumption of calories and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles.  As our research suggests, there is a lack of understanding about recommended calorie intake and physical activity guidelines. It is therefore crucial we help consumers to make informed decisions about what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet and active lifestyle by providing them with information based on facts and science”.

Notes to editors
The online survey was conducted by OnePoll amongst 2,000 UK adults 18+ between 16th December 2013 and 23rd December 2013.
*Physical activity guidelines by the NHS recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities per week.
**The NHS states an average man needs around 2,500 calories a day to maintain his weight. For an average woman, that figure is around 2,000 calories a day.
***The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of whether you're a healthy weight for your height and is calculated by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by your height in metres squared (kg/m2).
****According to the NHS, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI over 30 is considered obese.


For further information, please call 0207 492 0975 or email press@absugar.com.




Please find below Mark Carr’s Saturday Essay Comment featured within The Grocer on Saturday 25 January, which seeks to place the recent comments around obesity in context.

In the last fortnight, sugar has been singled out as a lead cause of the obesity epidemic in the UK. Some have even gone as far as to brand it the ’new tobacco’. Fuelled by comments made by members of the new campaign group, Action on Sugar, these views are misleading and unhelpful. Even worse, they are likely to confuse consumers who are already unsure about what to eat as part of healthy balanced diet.
 
There is no silver bullet to solving the obesity crisis in the UK, and it is irresponsible if we encourage consumers to think that there is. The overwhelming body of scientific evidence is that it is the over-consumption of calories and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles which are causing the imbalance between energy (calories) in and energy (calories) out - the key factor driving rising obesity rates.
 
Central to Action on Sugar’s campaign is their call for a 20-30 per cent reduction in sugar added to food – a move they say will take 100 calories a day out of a typical diet. They claim this is enough to halt or reverse rising levels of obesity. However, the increase in the incidence of obesity in the UK is a result of a range of factors that are more complex than this. For example, Government Family Food statistics show that there has actually been a reduction of almost 12%* in total sugars consumption in the UK over the past decade, so the suggestion that an increase in obesity results only from increased sugar consumption is not supported by current statistics. 
 
The Campaign’s focus on sugar and calories may also lead people to wrongly assume that sugar is higher in calories than other food groups. Sugar has no more calories than other key food groups. It has four calories per gram, which is the same as protein and starch, and lower than alcohol (seven calories) and fat (nine calories). Oversimplifying the debate to one of reducing sugar intake runs the risk of grossly misleading consumers.
 
AB Sugar is not alone in its concern about claims made by Action on Sugar. Diabetes UK, noted ‘it is important to be clear that we want to reduce sugar consumption because having too much can easily lead to weight gain, as is true with foods high in fat. So reducing the amount of sugar in our diets is not all that we need to do’.  



The British Nutrition Foundation noted, ‘Despite the widespread recognition that many people in the UK need to cut down intake of added sugar …, the recent media headlines describing sugar as a leading cause of obesity and diabetes and comparing it with tobacco are misleading.’  It also said, ‘An excess of total calories (from any food or drink source), which is not balanced with sufficient physical activity, can lead to weight gain.’



Waging war on one food group is clearly not the answer. We believe that the public would benefit from a better overall understanding about the food they put in their bodies. Our own research** suggests that there is still a huge amount of confusion. For example, two fifths of people rarely or never check the food label before buying a product and 67% do not track their daily calorie intake.

Let’s be clear, our task as an industry is to support and facilitate constructive debate on diet and lifestyle. AB Sugar is committed to playing its part in this, and is supportive of measures that help people better manage their calorie intake and diet. However, it is crucial that the discussion around how to combat obesity is founded on facts, scientific evidence and sensible dialogue.

We want consumers to be able to make up their own minds about sugar and how it can be consumed as part of healthy diet and active lifestyle by providing them with the facts and science.  For example correcting misconceptions that sugars are ‘hidden’ in products when, in reality, all sugars are declared on a product’s nutritional label. We want a sense of balance to be restored to the obesity debate.



We acknowledge there is no quick fix. Obesity is a complex problem that requires an integrated solution – one that we are keen to play a role in.
 
The online version of the Saturday Essay can be viewed here>


References

*Annual statistics about food and drink purchases in the UK (DEFRA)
view site here>
**Food Intake Survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of AB Sugar in December 2013, with a representative sample of 2,000 UK adults.


For further information, please call 0207 492 0975 or email press@absugar.com.



The Horizon programme explored fat versus sugar. 

We support the conclusion that obesity is not down to a single ingredient, but is the result of a range of complex factors.  Healthy, balanced diets and exercise are the key to reducing obesity.
 
Click here to find out more about sugar versus fat in our diets.
The Dispatches programme exploring the role of sugar in the diet (aired on 20 January) missed a simple fact: if you consume too many calories by eating too much of any type of food, you will put on weight.

The overwhelming body of scientific evidence is that it is the over-consumption of calories and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles which are causing the imbalance between energy in and energy out - the key factor driving rising obesity rates which in turn are contributing to increased incidence in Type 2 Diabetes.

Indeed, Diabetes UK, has noted: ‘it is important to be clear that we want to reduce sugar consumption because having too much can easily lead to weight gain, as is true with foods high in fat. So reducing the amount of sugar in our diets is not all that we need to do’. 

Government Family Food statistics also show that there has actually been a reduction of almost 12%* per capita in total sugars consumption in the UK over the past decade, so the suggestion that an increase in obesity results only from increased sugar consumption is not supported by current statistics. 
 
In addition, the suggestion that sugars are ‘hidden’ in food and drink is incorrect and mis-leading, as all sugars are declared on a product’s nutritional label.  



We want consumers to be able to make up their own minds about sugar and how it can be consumed as part of healthy diet and active lifestyle by providing them with the facts and science.
 
For further information, please call 0207 492 0975 or email press@absugar.com.


References
*Annual statistics about food and drink purchases in the UK (DEFRA)
visit site >
 








As a responsible business and as part of the food and drink industry, we are supportive of measures that help people make informed choices about their calorie intake and diet.

We want to play our part in helping people adopt a diet commensurate with the lifestyle they lead so as to avoid health problems, however, to single out one ingredient for sole blame on this issue is misleading and unhelpful for consumers. It oversimplifies the issue.

Obesity is caused by people consuming excess calories through the food and drink they consume. The increased incidence of obesity in the UK is a result of a complex range of factors. We do of course acknowledge that sugar consumption is frequently cited as a factor in these public health challenges. However, the Government Family Food statistics have in fact shown a reduction of almost 12%1 in total sugars over the last decade.

This is clearly a complex problem that requires a complex solution – one that we are keen to play a role in.

For further information, please call 0207 492 0975 or email press@absugar.com.
 
 
References

1 Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affair, National Statistics, Family Food 2012.  Visit site >