Working Paper Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Sweet Talk: A Qualitative Study Exploring Attitudes Towards Sugar, Sweeteners and Sweet-Tasting Foods in the United Kingdom

Version 1 : Received: 24 March 2021 / Approved: 25 March 2021 / Online: 25 March 2021 (17:14:44 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Tang, C.S.; Mars, M.; James, J.; de Graaf, K.; Appleton, K.M. Sweet Talk: A Qualitative Study Exploring Attitudes towards Sugar, Sweeteners and Sweet-Tasting Foods in the United Kingdom. Foods 2021, 10, 1172. Tang, C.S.; Mars, M.; James, J.; de Graaf, K.; Appleton, K.M. Sweet Talk: A Qualitative Study Exploring Attitudes towards Sugar, Sweeteners and Sweet-Tasting Foods in the United Kingdom. Foods 2021, 10, 1172.

Journal reference: Foods 2021, 10, 1172
DOI: 10.3390/foods10061172

Abstract

Worldwide initiatives currently aim to reduce free sugar intakes, but success will depend on consumer attitudes towards sugar and the alternatives. This work aimed to explore attitudes towards sugar, sweeteners and sweet-tasting foods in the general public of the UK, including attitudes towards personal consumption and related policies. Focus groups and interviews were conducted with 34 adults (7 males, ages: 18-65 years). Thematic analysis identified six themes: ‘Value’ (e.g. pleasure, emotions), ‘Angle’ (e.g. disinterest), ‘Personal Relevance’ (to be concerned and/or change one’s own behaviour), ‘Personal Responsibility’ (one has an active relationship with these food items), ‘Understanding’ (the acquisition, comprehension and application of information surrounding these food items) and ‘It’s Not Up to Me’ (a passive approach towards these food items, because intake is subjected to other factors). Both positive and negative attitudes towards sugar, sweeteners and sweet-tasting foods were expressed in all themes, largely dependent on the individual. Potential strategies for reducing free sugar intakes were also reported, but differences in likely value were suggested by different individuals. Future work should assess associations between attitudes and intakes. For greatest population benefit, evidence of the dominant attitudes in those in greatest need of reduced free sugar intakes would be of value.

Keywords

Sugars; Sweeteners; Sweet Taste; Sweetness; Attitudes; Focus Groups; Qualitative Research; Thematic Analysis

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