A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Otago has revealed that consumers are more accepting of drinks with reduced sugar content than previously thought. The study aimed to determine people’s rejection threshold for varying levels of sugar in a cordial drink and how this related to their daily diet.
The researchers discovered that on average, study participants accepted drinks with 112% more sugar than the manufacturer’s recommendation, as well as drinks with 62% less sugar. This surprising finding indicates that consumers can still enjoy products with reduced sugar content despite being able to detect differences in sweetness levels.
According to Dr Mei Peng, lead author of the study, even a 47% reduction in sugar in a standard 250 mL orange cordial can result in a substantial reduction of 170 kJ, or 41 kcal, per drink. This energy deduction can have significant implications for weight management. Previous studies have suggested that reducing sugar in all soft drinks by 40% could lead to a decrease in the number of overweight and obese individuals.
The results of the study also revealed that individuals who were more sensitive to sugar reduction consumed significantly more energy from sugar in their daily diet. This highlights the important role that our sense of taste plays in guiding our dietary habits.
Dr Peng suggests that gradually reducing the amount of sugar in sweetened products over time could help individuals accept products with reduced sugar more easily. These findings have important implications for public health policy proposals aimed at reducing sugar intake.
In conclusion, this study sheds light on the fact that consumers have a broad range for sugar acceptance and can still enjoy drinks with reduced sugar content. Understanding individual differences in sweetness preference can help guide efforts to reduce dietary sugar intake and promote healthier choices.
(Source: Food Quality and Preference, University of Otago)