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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 June 2006, 23:06 GMT 00:06 UK
Call to scrap diabetes treat food
Image of chocolate
Diabetes food was popular in the 1960s
Retailers are being urged to withdraw diabetes treat food and drinks.

Charity Diabetes UK is arguing the concept of diabetes-friendly biscuits and chocolate is outdated and encourages over-indulgence.

It said others should follow the lead of the Co-operative Group, which has agreed to phase the treats out of its 500 supermarkets and pharmacies.

Experts said diets with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables were best for people with and without the condition.

Diabetes treat foods, such as low-sugar chocolate, jam and soft drinks, became popular in the 1960s when diabetes care focused on eating a sugar-free, low-carbohydrate diet.

These foods do not contain sugar so people may think that labelling them as 'suitable for diabetics' means it's okay to eat large quantities
Zoe Harrison, of Diabetes UK

Food manufacturers used sugar alcohols and bulk sweeteners, instead of sucrose, to make sugar-free products.

They are now less common on UK store shelves than they used to be, but many of the leading chains still stock a limited range.

But Zoe Harrison, care adviser at Diabetes UK, said: "These foods do not contain sugar so people may think that labelling them as 'suitable for diabetics' means it's okay to eat large quantities.

"However, diabetic foods are also high in fat and are therefore unadvisable in large quantities for people with or without diabetes.


"They also contain sweeteners which affect blood glucose levels in much the same way as sugar, and therefore offer no nutritional benefit.

"I hope other outlets will follow this example."

She said people with diabetes were advised to eat small amounts of ordinary versions as part of a healthy balanced diet - the same advice that applies to everyone.

Liz Colling, of the Co-operative Group, said the foods would be phased out following discussions with Diabetes UK.

"The advice to people with diabetes has changed in recent years, and the focus is now on making healthy food choices and having a balanced diet - not simply eating special 'diabetic' products, which are often very expensive."

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