Sweet temptations

Cut back on sugar

Sugar may be sweet, but it leaves a bitter aftertaste: too much sugar can contribute to major health issues such as obesity and diabetes, whilst its production threatens many environmentally sensitive regions.

The average person eats 66 grams of sugar a day - almost three times the amount recommended by the World Health Organisation (who’d rather we limit our intake to six teaspoons or less) . Isn’t it about time we started cutting back?1

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Why

Here are a few reasons to take action.

Click for more info or scroll to read them all.

Health

Eating too much sugar leads to weight-gain, which in turn increases your risk of various serious health conditions such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and strokes.2 High blood sugar can also create what’s known as an ‘inflammatory response’, which weakens the immune system by interfering with your body cells’ immune responses.3

What’s more, a major study4 has shown strong links between high sugar consumption and a host of mental health issues - including depression.

And let’s not forget what your mum always said - too many sweet treats will make your teeth fall out (or, at the very least, lead to some expensive dentist’s bills!)

Water

Sugarcane is a thirsty crop with very high water requirements, which can cause serious problems in regions that are prone to water shortages and droughts. To make matters worse, the run-off from fertilizers used to grow bigger crops, together with the industrial waste from sugar mills, is a major source of water pollution.

It takes 1,500-3,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of sugar.5

Productivity

We all know that sugar isn’t great for our body, but what about our minds? The brain is very sensitive to blood glucose levels, particularly those caused by a post-sugar binge slump.

Recent research has linked sugar consumption to all sorts of brain-related problems, including overeating, poor memory formation and learning disorders.6

50%

more land will need to be cultivated by 2050 to meet projected global sugarcane demand.7

The Environment

The WWF has identified the historical clearing of different habitats for sugarcane cultivation as one of the most significant causes of agricultural biodiversity loss on the planet. Tropical rainforests, the entire natural habitat of thousands of islands, and millions of hectares of fragile coastal wetlands around the world have been cleared to make way for sugarcane, often wiping out natural vegetation.

Global Goals

In September 2017, a historic agreement was signed by UN member nations agreeing to work towards 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development by 2030, otherwise known as the SDGs.

Achieving these ambitious goals will require action from governments, businesses, NGOs, and individuals alike. We can - and must - all play our part.

By making the 'Sweet temptations' pledge, you are contributing in your own small way to the following SDG targets:

3.4: By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being

12.8: By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature

How

There's a heated debate about whether we can technically call sugar ‘addictive’. Either way, cutting back on sugar can seem like a daunting task...but it’s totally do-able, and worth it!

Here are a few top tips to get you started:

  1. Sugar isn’t always called ‘sugar’, and knowing how much is in a product can require a degree in food engineering. As a rough guide, look at the ‘carbohydrates as sugars’ figure on nutrition labels (this includes both natural and added sugars). Less than 5g per 100g is low, more than 22.5g per 100g is high
  2. Check the ingredients list for anything ending in ‘ose’ (glucose, sucrose, fructose, lactose, maltose): these are all forms of sugar, and the higher up on the list they are, the more sugar the product contains
  3. Be wary of low-fat and ‘diet’ foods. Despite claiming to be good for you, these products are often high in sugar
  4. Fruit contains a lot of natural sugars. The general advice is to eat whole fruit because it contains lots of healthy vitamins, minerals and fibre. However, try to get plenty of nutrition from a wide variety of vegetables, including leafy greens
  5. We often eat sugar because we feel hungry, but sugar famously doesn’t fill you up. Instead, snack on protein-rich, good fats like nuts, avocados and natural yoghurt. Not only do these provide nutrients, essential fats and amino acids, they’ll make you feel fuller for longer, all while having a minimal impact on your blood glucose levels
  6. When you do consume sweeter or high carbohydrate foods, try to pair them with things like lemon juice, cinnamon, nuts and protein (like cheese). This will reduce the spike in blood sugar as you metabolise the food
  7. There are lots of apps out there that will help you understand and monitor your daily sugar consumption. For example, the NHS’s Change4Life Food Scanner app uses bar-code scanning to show you how much sugar is in your potential purchases

And finally, when the time comes to have that special sugary treat, make sure to choose something that uses Fair Trade sugar. That way, your purchase is helping support sustainable growing practices and fair treatment of workers. All the more delicious, right?

Success Stories

1,109

Pledges
in total

1,359kg

CO2
pledged

I have consciously tried to cut down on the amount of sugar I'm eating and generally improve my diet. The fact I'm now thinking a bit more about what I'm eating means the pledge has had an effect, and something I'll continue going forward. That along with some consistent exercise.

i'm more conscious about the choices i make... a good first step in the right direction

I have/had a major sweet tooth! Doesn't help that I am a chef and have up until recently been working on a pastry section! I still love a bit of chocolate but go for dark varieties over milk (tend to have far less sugar!) I did fall off the wagon for a few days but the circumstances were exceptional and I needed the calories to get me through a running event! I'm ok with that. Glad I pledged to cut down on sugar, my dentist will be proud!

It was difficult to be mindful about craving sweets but I planned alternative stacks like nuts, cherry tomatoes, fruit and berries so I did consume much less sugar.

I used unrefined sugars wherever possible and didn't buy my usual chocolate bars from the health shop!

I have most definitely cut down my intake and have not been buying or bringing to work snacks. Instead opting for fruit. However, I have struggled and at times when it's been available I have eaten these sugary items.