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Is it ‘right’ to ban high sugar products?

Ok, I’ve read the hype and the arguments and I have a point of view on this.  As the general consensus seems to have been bashing Tesco for deciding to ban some high sugar products, I thought I should add my balance to the argument.  For the record, this post is not sponsored or in conjunction with any brand of any kind, and is just my opinion.

The conversation seems to be based around the following principles:sugar

  • Tesco banning sweets from checkouts.
  • Promoting energy drinks as a healthier alternative.
  • Removing some high sugar drinks from sale.
  • Sugar Consumption.
  • Obesity.

Banning Sweets from Checkouts

Kudos to Tesco for this.  Every journey begins somewhere.

Ok, there is still a learning curve, and perhaps individual store managers have a say on what does get promoted, but on the whole, this is a great initiative.  I’m not convinced that dried fruit has a place here either, as the sugar content is still high, and our bodies treat all carbs as sugar, but if it’s a choice between candy and dried fruit, isn’t it better if children pick the dried fruit (and adults for that matter).

Promoting Energy Drinks as a Healthier Alternative

I guess we could say that this is actually true in some respects, though perhaps it would be better if we tried to work with retailers on what’s acceptable and what is not.  After all, we all have differing opinions.  As a diabetic who also has to manage someone else’s diabetes, I’d much rather deal with aspartame than high sugar, but if I can get rid of the aspartame, I will.  I don’t think we know enough about it to know how safe it is long-term.

It’s not the shop who is at fault with the sweeteners, it’s ours.  There are alternative ways to sweeten products, but we choose to buy ones loaded with aspartame.  I know I’d rather drink an aspartame product than an added sugar one, but that’s just me.

The caffeine element is not so easy for me to rationalise, as the drinks say they are not suitable for children.  Checkouts are very much driven by impulse last-minute buys by everyone in stores and I find plenty of shops that sell high caffeine energy drinks to kids.

Even my local shop does it.  It’s not illegal, and a couple of glasses of most brands of cola, or a few cups of coffee will add up to the same caffeine intake, but does not gather such vitriol as energy drinks.

I don’t like the promotion, but I can see where it came from, and to some extent, it applies to almost all shops that sell energy drinks and fizzy stuff.

Removing some High Sugar Drinks from Sale

I am really struggling to find the downside of this…..

I think people are perhaps confusing the removal of drinks with added sugar, with the removal of products that are high in sugar naturally.

In the Telegraph, David Beardmore, soft drinks buying manager for Tesco explained that it is part of a ten point plan against obesity, and that from September, they will only sell no-added-sugar drinks in the childrens juice categories.

Read that again.  no-added-sugar…..

It’s seems to have nothing to do with the brands of Ribena, Capri-Sun, Ribicon, or anything else.  It’s about removing products which are loaded up with extra sugar.  That’s sugar that nobody needs in their life.  Ever.

He also states, that most of the suppliers are supportive.

The manufacturers are free to modify products to contain no added sugar, and I suspect they would be stocked once again.  It wouldn’t be a bad thing for us to develop a less sweet tooth than we currently seem to have as a species overall.

Sugar Consumption

Look at the back of almost every processed product you buy, and in there will a label that tells us all about the carbohydrates.  Most of us tend to scan the list and take a look at the sugar content, forgetting that all carbs are treated as sugar in our bodies.

Let’s face it, even soups, pasta, ready meals and all sorts have sugar bumped into them.  Many bloggers make their meals from scratch, so we tend to consume less sugar, but on the whole, many of us, and our kids, eat plenty added sugar foods overall.

Sugar is addictive.  Apart from the lucky people who eat to live and treat food as fuel, the rest of us derive large amounts of pleasure and satisfaction from eating food, and food tends to taste better with fat and sugar added, even if we don’t always know why we like the taste.  Crucially, sugar is one food ingredient that we don’t need at all.  We get zero benefit from it, and it adds absolutely nothing to our diets.

If someone is a T1 diabetic and needs a sugar injection, there are many other choices to have on hand as a quick sugar release.  Added sugar products seem to be overkill, though I admit, it might be easier for a parent to persuade a hypoglycemic child to drink their favourite sugary drink.  The point being, though, that if it’s their favourite, they are more than likely consuming it when they don’t actually need the sugar, and then just topping up sugar levels that don’t need to be topped up.

I use sugar in my recipes for sweet things, but often reduce the content that other people recommend.  I suspect few of us would add sugar to our full meals, so why manufacturers think we need it in those products, completely flummoxes me.

Yes, I would like to see sugar content reduced, and products taken off the other shelves, but I’m old enough to know that a single step can eventually turn into cracking a mountain, if someone is determined to carry through their convictions.


Yes, I’ve read and listened to the arguments for other products listed in stores that are high in sugar, but those are not solely aimed at children.  The products being removed are directed specifically at children.

We can deny it all we want, but on the whole, kids are getting fatter.  Two of my kids are skinny and one is slim, but he did have a problem for a while, and we’ve managed to wean him off the taste of high sugar products, but like me, he’s an addict and will always have to watch how much he is taking in.

Being fat sucks.  I don’t care how many people dress it up, or say how happy they are with their bodies at a heavier weight, there are few people I would believe.

Along with the difficulty in getting clothes that fit well, there’s excess sweating, stress and pressure on joints, stress on the heart, cholesterol levels, the possibility of Type 2 diabetes, or being shamed and called names in public, at school, or anywhere else.  And those are just for starters.

I have been very fat, and I have been very thin.  I know which version I prefer.  I wish that all products, apart from desserts, had been made sugar free throughout my life.  It would have made my choices so much easier.

As someone who finds it very easy to be addicted to the one thing that also can make me ill, there is no escape from my poison.  An alcoholic can stop drinking and not have to pass another drop across their lips.  A food addict does not have that pleasure.  Every day, they have to face their demons and swallow a portion of what they are addicted to.

And sugar is addictive…. Craving carbohydrates is common, as is the carb coma that can make someone want to sleep after eating a carb rich meal, but at the same time, it’s impossible to ignore the plethora of products out there to choose from.

My Last Words

If a huge retailer can enter discussions with providers of added sugar products, to remove the excess, then I think it is one step in the right direction.

Yes, there are bound to be teething problems, and yes, I think it could have been done differently, but I really do like the principle.

I am hoping that the initiative is built upon and expanded.  I think I’m just pleased to see a large household name start to take responsibility.  The test is going to be whether they can keep it going, and alter manufacturers product ingredient choices as a result.





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