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Sugar consumption in the UK consistently exceeds recommendations, despite the association it has with poor health outcomes. Low socioeconomic groups are most likely to over-consume sugar, which could exacerbate existing health disparities. Various interventions attempt to reduce the amount of sugar consumed, but their effectiveness is still unclear. This study qualitatively explored the sugar consumption behaviours of individuals experiencing food poverty, and examined how an information-based sugar reduction intervention might influence these behaviours. Eight clients and six volunteers from a food bank in Bristol (UK) completed semi-structured, one-to-one interviews that were thematically analysed. Food bank clients appeared to heavily consume sugar, with little understanding of the associated health effects and limited awareness of the intervention. Consumption behaviours were particularly influenced by personal and psychological factors, such as mental health; in addition to social factors, like familial behaviours and food access issues. It emerged that food bank clients' often-challenging personal circumstances were likely to promote their sugar consumption. Making intervention materials visually appealing and easily comprehendible were found to be important for improving an intervention's reception. Recommendations were developed to improve the efficacy of similar information-based sugar reduction interventions among socioeconomically deprived groups.

Original publication




Journal article


International journal of environmental research and public health

Publication Date





UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Box 285 Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK.


Humans, Attitude to Health, Mental Health, Awareness, Qualitative Research, Socioeconomic Factors, Adult, Female, Male, United Kingdom, Dietary Sugars