If there's an enduring trend in health concerns for Kiwis over the past few years, it's sugar.
Most of us will have scrutinised a label at some point to check the sugar content with a view to cutting down. There's no doubt we're more aware of sugar in our foods than ever before. So what's the best alternative?
We have a lot of options. Consumer preference has prompted food manufacturers to change their products, often removing sugar, and to develop new lower-sugar ones.
It's a good trend. But it's interesting to see what's going into foods instead to make this happen.
When you have less sugar in a food such as cereal, yoghurt or drinks but want to keep the sweetness, you have to replace it with something.
There are two things going on. The first is the use of so-called 'natural' sugars: things like honey, maple syrup, rice malt syrup, fruit juice and coconut sugar.
Using these means a food marketer can say things like 'no refined sugar' or 'naturally sweetened' on a product.
This is misleading. All of the above ingredients are classified as free sugars by the World Health Organisation; they're added sugars we should be trying to limit.
Eating something sweetened with these is no better than eating something containing ordinary sugar.
The other thing that's happening is the increasing use of artificial sweeteners, or 'non-nutritive sweeteners' as they're known.
These sweeteners have a bit of a bad rep, although there are some natural ones such as stevia that are more accepted and are being widely used.
The research around non-nutritive sweeteners is interesting. The traditional ones – aspartame, sucralose etc – are some of the most studied food additives around.
For a long time there's been no evidence that these are harmful.
However recently there has been some emerging research which suggests a link between sweeteners and an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
It's been suggested that sweeteners may have an effect on the bacteria in our gut, altering it in such a way that we're more inclined to gain weight.
This is, of course, the opposite of what we'd hope for when choosing a food or drink with no sugar.
So what's the answer if we want a sweet taste with less sugar?
A little bit of sugar is OK – between 5 and six teaspoons of added (or free) sugar a day.
But we're better off trying, if we can, for as little sweet-tasting food and drink as possible, no matter how it's sweetened (excluding whole fruit).
Sweet things tend to make us crave more sweet things, so the less we have, the more we can re-train our palates to accept a less sweet taste.
We can re-train by cutting out sweeteners – sugar or otherwise – gradually over time. With drinks, transitioning from a sugar-sweetened drink to a sugar-free drink is useful, but don't stop there.
Try and get to a point where sweet things really are an occasional treat.
• Niki Bezzant is editor-at-large for Healthy Food Guide. www.healthyfood.co.nz