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Study: sugar sales not as sweet


PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. Growing concern over obesity and diabetes has lead to a rise in spending on products that are sugar-free, low-sugar, or contain artificial sweeteners. According to The NPD Group, 44% of American homemakers are extremely or very concerned about serving foods with sugar, the highest percentage noted since 1994.

According to NPD's Dieting Monitor service, nearly seven out of 10 adults say they want to cut down or avoid sugar completely, and about four out of 10 adults say they check food labels regularly for sugar. Over half of consumers say they are aware of and concerned about high fructose corn syrup, one of the most commonly-used sweeteners today.

The NPD found that in the year ending November 2006, 20% of Americans ate a low-sugar/sugar-free/artificially sweetened food item at least once in a two-week period, up from 14% in 2001.

Use of sugar substitutes to sweeten beverages is increasing. In 2006, more than 10% of coffee drinks had sugar substitutes added to them, up from eight percent in 1997. And while consumption of sugar-sweetened, carbonated soft drinks is declining (from 88 annual drinkings per capita in 1997 to 77 in 2006), consumption of diet soft drinks has remained the same.

"There's little doubt that Americans right now are increasingly concerned about sugar consumption," said Harry Balzer, vp of The NPD Group. He adds, "But, we've been here before. Back in the 1980s, nearly 60% of Americans expressed concern about the sugar they were consuming, before declining during the early 1990s. I suspect we'll see the same trend during the next 10 years."

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