Consultant launches blog to wean Scots off sugar

Mandy Drake, consultant paediatric endocrinologist at Royal Hospital for Sick Children. Photograph: Lisa Ferguson
Mandy Drake, consultant paediatric endocrinologist at Royal Hospital for Sick Children. Photograph: Lisa Ferguson
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A leading consultant in treating children with hormone problems has launched a food blog aimed at encouraging youngsters and adults to eat less sugar.

Mandy Drake, who splits her time between working with the NHS at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh and leading a university research team looking into the development of obesity, launched her site in April. She says the thinking behind the blog is to make people aware that they can still enjoy cakes and treats but with less sugar.

More than 276,000 people in Scotland have diabetes, with a further 45,500 estimated to have Type 2 diabetes but who are unaware that they have the condition.

Drake pours cold water on suggestions that obesity could be related to hormones, saying: “It’s very rare that there is a hormone problem that is actually causing your obesity.”

She said: “Based on the fact that I like making cakes and once you’re baking these things you realise how much sugar goes into them and as a scientist and clinician I know that we do eat too much sugar leading to obvious consequences.

“So I started reducing the amount of sugar that we had in our cakes at home and found the recipes work perfectly well and I think they probably taste better with less sugar in and you can taste the rest of the ingredients. I thought it would be reasonable to share and see if I could get more people to eat less sugar as well.”

She added: “I’m very aware of the numbers of adults and children who are obese and when I’m seeing children and parents in clinic I’m always encouraging them to cut down on the amount of sugar that they’re eating.”

Drake said she thinks there is support for moves towards a sugar tax and is in no doubt that there is a direct link between obesity and poverty.

She said: “Obesity is linked into poverty and there is plenty of evidence for that, the prevalence of obesity tends to be higher with increasing poverty.

“The evidence for a [sugar tax] is difficult to find, but the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has recommended the introduction of a tax on sugary drinks, with evaluation of its effectiveness.”

It is estimated that by 2035 more than 480,000 people in Scotland will be living with diabetes.