From sugar junkie to clean-living: a not-so sweet backlash has begun…

OK, so arguably we still have another few weeks of eating and drinking with abandon before having to consider New Year detoxes and stabs at 'clean' diets. 

However, there is also no doubt that sugar is by now a year-round issue. 

Indeed, during 2016 the backlash against it really picked up pace – so much so that family-friendly and health-conscious brands are scrambling to reduce the sugar content in their produce.

From simply cutting down the amount to finding new innovative processes, manufacturers are taking the matter seriously.

Just recently, and partially in response to the Irish government's A Healthy Weight For Ireland plan, Tesco released a statement confirming it has reduced the amount of sugar in all its own-brand soft drinks.

The World Health Organisation advises that our sugar intake should not exceed 5 percent of our total daily calories, including the sugar “hidden” in the foods we eat.

This represents about five to six teaspoons daily. Given that the average Irish person consumes an astonishing 24 teaspoons every single day, there is still a lot to be done to reach the WHO recommendations.

Tesco isn’t the only brand trying to cut down the amount of sugar they use in their food. Between 2000 and 2013, Nestlé reduced the amount of sugar in its products by a third, especially in its range of children’s food.

Recently, the food giant also announced that its in-house scientists had found a method to cut sugar in their chocolate by as much as 40 percent. The exact process, which is being kept a secret, supposedly alters the structure of sugar, making it taste sweeter in smaller amounts; a reduced-sugar chocolate could hit the shelves as early as 2018.

“We want people to get used to a different taste, a taste that would be more natural,” Stefan Catsicas of Nestle explained in an interview with Bloomberg. “We really want to be the drivers of the solution.”

And in the UK, Lucozade, Orangina, and Ribena will all also reduce their sugar content reduced by half in order to avoid forthcoming tax penalties.

According to, coffee chains Costa, Starbucks, and Caffe Nero are also trying to cut the sugar from their festive drinks, which contain up to 80g of sugar per cup.

In Ireland, we have another year or so before the arrival of the so-called sugar tax: during the Budget 2017 announcement in October, Finance Minister Michael Noonan confirmed that a tax a sugary drinks will be imposed from the spring of 2018 – in line with similar legislation in the UK.