The Science of Sugar: Less Sugar Coating and More Facts Required

sugarGlancing at the headlines you’d be forgiven for thinking that sugar is public menace number one. Sensationalist reporting has nailed sugar as the primary cause of everything from obesity, diabetes and cancer.

While we all know that too much of anything can be a bad thing, it is important that sugar is not over demonised in the media. The sugar debate needs to become more transparent and present the actual science of sugar in a more balanced way.

Sugar does have an important role to play as part of a healthy balanced diet and like starch, is one of the major carbohydrates we need to provide our bodies with the energy needed to function every day. Sugar acts as a natural preservative, reducing food spoilage and also gives texture to food making possible the composition of everyday foods such as the jam we put on our toast in the morning. It is also forgotten at times in mainstream reporting that the same sugar molecules are found in the fruit & vegetables we eat everyday as part of a healthy balanced diet.

Let’s also not forget that the sugar industry (and yes, we do represent clients within the sector), through manufacturing, refining and consumer spending makes a substantial contribution to the UK economy. The media has a responsibility to ensure that consumers are given all the information they need to be informed of the facts about sugar and make informed choices, rather than indulge in what can sometimes be spurious and alarmist claims driven by radical self-interest groups.

Health and wellbeing is rightly high on the national agenda and the benefits of a healthier nation are clear for the future prosperity of the economy. Sugar should not however be turned into the ultimate scapegoat when examining how best that can be achieved.

As a nation that puts a cup of tea and a biscuit above any other panacea for everyday problems, it’s hard to argue that sugar can no longer have a place in our daily lives.

Jordan is a vice president in Ketchum’s corporate reputation specialty, based in Washington, D.C., with extensive experience working with clients across food and agriculture, technology and financial services. He also has considerable international experience supporting clients on global campaigns, having previously spent four years in Ketchum’s London office.