It has become public health enemy number one in recent months.
Sugar is currently the topic of a heated debate with calls from Food Standards Scotland (FSS) to introduce a tax on the ingredient.
A recent report from the food body said that “radical change” was needed to address Scottish eating habits, which have led to two out of three adults being classed as overweight or obese.
It added that Scottish people over-estimate the healthiness of their diet, with up to 16% of their daily energy intake coming from sugar.
This week The Courier took to the streets, quizzing Dundonians on their knowledge of ingredients in foods widely considered to be healthy.
We asked members of the public to line up a fruit yoghurt, a cereal bar, a tin of tomato soup, a bottle of salad dressing and a bar of organic black chocolate in order of sugar content (from most to least sugary) without looking at the labels.
Next, we revealed the actual sugar content of each item a result that proved to be eye-opening for our participants, most of whom were unaware of the so-called ‘hidden sugar’ in ‘healthy’ foods.
The item with the highest amount of sugar per 100g was the cereal bar (30g of sugar), followed by the yoghurt and dark chocolate (both 13.5g of sugar), the salad dressing (10.5g) and the tomato soup (4.8g).
None of the people quizzed managed to place the items in the correct order and were surprised to hear that the yoghurt and the cereal bar in particular were high in sugar.
While avoiding sweets and fizzy drinks is an obvious step towards healthier eating, ‘hidden sugar’ in other everyday foods can make it difficult to track how much is being consumed.
The FSS has now called for the food sector to be given 12 months to come up with a way of reducing sugar consumption if it doesn’t want to face a sugar tax.
FSS chairman Ross Finnie said: “There can be few in any doubt now as to the gravity of the health time-bomb related to poor diet and obesity facing our nation.
“Individual responsibility around food choices, exercise and activity levels remain important, but this cannot be left to individuals alone.”
Meanwhile, Dundee Science Centre is bringing the issue to the attention of shoppers at the Wellgate Centre today.
The Saturday Science LIVE event, aimed at both adults and children, is taking place on Level 2 between 1 and 4pm.
Visitors have the chance to test their knowledge of how much sugar is contained in different drinks by being asked to match them up with tubs containing the corresponding amount of sugar.
There is also the chance to explore the insides of ‘Stuffee’ the rag doll, and learn about the role of human organs.
Rebecca Erskine, exhibition and community engagement manager at the science centre, said: “The human body is an amazing machine and understanding how it works is key to helping us keep it working well!”