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Europe: Consumers have mixed views on sugar, finds survey

Macarons put close together on blue table and white cloth with colorful and backlight.

Consumers perceive sugar as both a ‘friend and foe’ in their nutrition, according to a quantitative consumer research commissioned by Beneo.

The results also underline that sugar and carbohydrates play a key role in consumer behavior when dealing with health concerns.

More than 5,000 consumers in UK, Spain, Germany, France and Poland were surveyed on their perception of sugar, carbohydrates and nutrition, with regard to blood glucose response.

The results show that consumer health concerns in order of importance are weight management (43%), fatigue or low energy (36%) and stress (35%).

Consumers are aware that the amount and type of sugars, as well as carbohydrates in general, play a major role in coping with these health issues.

Consumers’ main motivation for sugar reduction in their nutrition was because of its negative effects on their health.

About 58% of respondents who wanted to eat less sugar said that their major driver was to control their weight.

Also, the detrimental long-term effects of sugar consumption such as diabetes were a concern, being mentioned by nearly one out of three consumers who were trying to cut their sugar intake.

Although wanting to reduce the amount of sugar consumed, respondents were not prepared to forego the feeling of sugar-like indulgence: 60% said that they ate sugar because they liked the taste and one out of three participants (33%) responded that sugar improved their overall mood.

Consumers tell ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbohydrates apart

Despite consumers seeing the benefits of less sugar intake, they also recognized that carbohydrates are the major energy source for body and brain.

About 46% of respondents stated that they consumed carbohydrates because they “give energy”, as more than one out of two participants making a distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbohydrates.

Wholegrain, fiber, complex carbohydrates and slow-release carbohydrates were seen as ‘good’; with 51% of respondents regarding slow-release carbohydrates as generally better and 60% linking slow-release carbohydrates with sustained energy.