Dr John Fry, a consultant on food science specialising in sweeteners, said some foods needed sugar in their make-up. “Sugar has many properties that are not duplicated by high-potency sweeteners and there are many instances where sugar is a very important feature chemical in a process.”
Fry was responding to calls from the new campaign group Action on Sugar (AoS) set up last month to pressurise the industry to cut added sugars by 20–30% to help combat obesity.
In cakes, for example, he said sugars were “vital” to the recipe. “If you simply skip the sugar, you end up with not so much as a pancake.”
Fry also pointed out that it was against EU legislation (Directive 96/83/EC) to replace sugars in baked goods with high-intensity sweeteners.
However, he said high-intensity sweeteners could be a safer solution to sugars in other products such as soft drinks.
The sentiment was echoed by AoS adviser and spokesman for the National Obesity Forum Tam Fry, who accused “sugar barons” of risking children’s health to make a profit.
He said food and drink companies needed to take more responsibility and lambasted sugar as one of the main causes of global obesity.
“Food firms always say it is the consumer’s choice. We understand their argument that they are providing choice, but they are using sugar as a marketing tool,” he added.
Not supported by scientific evidence
However, a spokesman from Sugar Nutrition, which promotes sugar’s benefits said its connection with obesity was not supported by the consensus of scientific evidence.
“The international authority, the World Health Organisation (WHO), funded a review on sugar and obesity published last year which concluded that any link to body weight was due to overconsumption of calories and was not specific to sugars,” said the spokesman.