Sugar and obesity

Food and drink provides our bodies with energy in the form of calories. If we consistently consume more ‘energy’ or calories than our bodies use, then this can lead to an accumulation of excess body fat. This can then result in weight gain.

In England, according to latest government statistics, around 40% of men are overweight and 26% are obese. Of women, 30% are considered overweight and 27% obese. Around 1 in 10 children in Reception and 1 in 5 children in Year 6, were measured as obese or overweight. These statistics were published in April 2018 for the period 31 March 2016 to 31 December 2017 (14).

Obesity is a complex issue and there are many factors which contribute (25). For example, many of us are simply leading less active lifestyles – whether that’s sitting at a desk all day long, driving more and walking less, or watching TV. If we are consuming too many calories the result is excess weight gain. We need to think about our lifestyles just that little bit more and how we can balance what we eat (for example by counting calories) with what we burn off.

Just like protein, starch and fat, sugar is a source of calories in the diet and excess calories from any ingredient or product can lead to being overweight. However the suggestion that sugar alone is responsible for the rise in obesity rates in the UK is too simplistic. It also is not supported by Government statistics which show a reduction of 16.6% per capita in consumption of total sugars in the UK since 2001 (10).

The best way to avoid becoming obese is to eat a healthy balanced diet and to exercise on a regular basis. Your doctor can advise you on the best diet for your individual needs.


  • Physical activity and exercise can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke and help maintain a healthy weight. (7).