How to spot added sugar

Spotting added sugar in the food we buy should be easy, right? Just read the label.

Actually, it is very tricky indeed. That’s because food manufacturers call sugar by more than 60 different names.

They know caring people like you are trying to avoid sugar, so they try to think up reassuring names for added sugar to sneak it into your trolley. Don’t be fooled! Remember, many savoury foods contain added sugar including salad dressing, pasta sauce and wholegrain cereals. 

Names range from the scientific sounding dextrose and glucose, to attractive terms like golden syrup or sweet sorghum.

If you’re going to protect your family from the health risks of too much added sugar, you’ll need to be wise to the tricks food manufacturers play to avoid being honest about the true amount of added sugar in their products.

Top tips for reading food labels:

Start at the very beginning. Items on food labels are listed in order from largest to smallest by weight. If one or more of the names for sugar feature towards the start of the list, that’s a sign that the product is high in added sugar.

Red alert words. Words like “syrup” and “sugar” are highly likely to mean added sugar. Anything described as “crystals” or “concentrate” is suspect as well. See a thorough list below courtesy of That Sugar Film.

An “ose” by any other name…. Words ending in “ose” often mean added sugar. Dextrose, maltose, sucrose are just a few.

4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon. The World Health Organisation says we should limit intake of added sugars to 6 teaspoons per day. 

Now that's a lot to remember, especially when you don't have all day to spend in the supermarket. Wouldn't it be great if we had clear labelling of added sugar on processed foods?  

Join us and help to ensure food labelling includes added sugars.