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Sugar & nutrition

Sugar as part of a balanced diet

Sugar is a natural carbohydrate. But what role does sugar play in nutrition? We look at the facts about sugar and nutrition and have provided you with answers to frequently asked questions.

The debate about the health effects of sugar has increased in recent years. As a leading sugar producer, we actively promote the discussion about sugar and nutrition in awareness of our responsibilities towards all stakeholders.

Being overweight or obese is a key risk factor for many non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Being overweight has many causes. The most important thing is to maintain a balance between calorie intake and calorie expenditure and for individuals to be aware of their own calorie balance. Consequently, focusing on individual ingredients distracts from the bigger picture. Reducing sugar consumption does not necessarily lead people to lose weight. Sugar is a natural component of a balanced diet as part of a healthy lifestyle. It performs many functions in food and gives pleasure. Knowledge and responsibility come first when it comes to healthy eating.

Nordzucker works continuously at national and EU level, as well as through the activities of industry associations, to provide information about the effect of sugar in food and about the links between sugar and a balanced diet as part of a healthy lifestyle. Based on scientific findings, we provide practical, clear and objective information about these links.

Additional information you can find in our brochure ‘Facts about sugar’ in our download center.

Sugar in food

Why is there sugar in food?

Besides bringing sweetness, sugar also contributes to several of our food’s sensory properties such as colour, texture and taste. In some products, sugar can act as a natural preservative.

How much sugar do fruit, berries and vegetables contain?

Sugar occurs naturally in varying amounts in fruit, berries and vegetables. Sugar beet and sugar cane are the only factories which contain so much sugar that it is worth extracting.

Is the sugar in fruit and berries healthier than added sugar?

The body cannot distinguish between added sugar and naturally occurring sugar in fruit and berries.

Sugar consumption

Do we eat more sugar today than we used to? 

The public debate may give the impression that we eat more sugar today than we used to, but the statistics show otherwise. Overall, sugar sales have been constant over a period of decades.


Does sugar make you fat?

If we consume more energy than our body uses, we will gain weight and ultimately become overweight. It is all about balancing calorie intake and calorie expenditure.

Do sugar taxes have an impact on people’s health or whether they are overweight?

To date, studies on the effectiveness of sugar taxes have found no impact on people’s health or whether they are overweight. Consumers tend to buy cheaper versions of the taxed products rather than consuming fewer calories.

Less sugar

Does “less sugar” mean fewer calories?

“Reduced sugar” or similar statements on food do not necessarily mean fewer calories. It is important to read the nutritional information on food and drinks, which compares the total energy content per 100 grams or milliliters.

Sugar and addiction

Can you become addicted to sugar?

Specific foods, nutrients or food additives do not cause addiction in the sense of substance-based addiction.

Do children become hyperactive from too much sugar?

Scientific studies have found no link between children’s sugar consumption and difficulties in their ability to concentrate or their behaviour.


Can sugar cause diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a so-called lifestyle disease. Sugar has not been established as a direct cause of diabetes. Being overweight and a lack of physical activity are reported to be the main risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

Does sugar cause large fluctuations in your blood sugar level?

Fluctuations in your blood sugar level after a meal are normal. For a healthy person, this is nothing to worry about. The body regulates your blood sugar level itself between meals.


Does sugar cause cavities in your teeth?

Frequent consumption of food that contains fermentable carbohydrates like sugar and starch can increase the risk of developing dental cavities, especially in people with poor dental hygiene.

Additional questions about sugar and health

Is sugar unhealthy?

It is far more relevant to look at eating habits and lifestyle as a whole, rather than focusing on one single ingredient or food product.

Is sugar “empty calories”?

The term “empty calories” describes food that contains energy, but no vitamins and minerals. Whether sugar is “empty calories” depends on the composition of the food or meal.

Is brown sugar healthier than white sugar?

The difference between brown and white sugar is the colour and taste. Brown sugar is produced from both beet and cane. Beet sugar turns brown as a result of caramelization. Brown cane sugar contains molasses. The amounts of minerals contained in it are so small that they have no health benefits.

Sugar has many good features that we use in our daily lives. Learn more about all functional properties of sugar.

Related Topics

Growing sugar beet and sugar cane

Sugar production

Guided factory tours

Functional charac­teristics of sugar