Debating the Nutritional Value of Sugar. An Evaluation of the Websites of U.S. Sugar and British Sugar in Connection to the WHO Guidelines for Sugars Intake

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2016

17 Pages, Grade: 2,0



1. Introduction and Objective
1.1. The Nutritional Value of Sugar
1.1.1. The WHO´s Guideline for Sugars Intake
1.1.2. Other Voices on Sugars and Health
1.2. Articles on Big Sugar´s Politics against the WHO Guideline

2. Hypertexts and the seven Standards of Textuality
2.1. Hypertexts and its main Features
2.2. Cohesion and Coherence
2.3. Intentionality and Acceptability
2.4. Informativity and Situationality
2.5. Intertextuality

3. Analysis of Selected Websites
3.1. Company Websites as special Hypertexts
3.2. Analyzing the Websites of U.S. Sugar and British Sugar

4. Conclusion

5. References

1. Introduction and Objective

Text analysis can help to examine diverse texts types for varying purposes. This paper will focus on the characteristics of company websites, as a special kind of hypertext. In order to do so, I chose the specific context of the debate about sugar and health between the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the global sugar industry in the years after 2003. Varying newspaper and journal articles point out that Big Sugar tried to damage the WHO global strategy on diet, health and physical activity, including sugars intake. Some of these articles, as well as the 2015 WHO guideline, will be presented at the start to build a foundation for the following analysis of the web presence of U.S. Sugar and British Sugar.

The objective of this paper is to present the characteristics of hypertexts in regard to the seven standards of textuality by Beaugrande & Dressler (1981) and to apply these to the company websites of U.S. Sugar and British Sugar in view of the before mentioned debate.

1.1. The Nutritional Value of Sugar

Sugar is discussed highly controversial by opposing actors. Different interested parties assess its nutritional value quite variously, due to their intentions. Hence, it should be obvious that the objectives of the global sugar industry deviate from the World Health Organisation, which strives to provide guidelines for a healthy living.

1.1.1. The WHO´s Guideline for Sugars Intake

The current WHO guideliŶe ͞“ugars iŶtake for adults aŶd ĐhildreŶ͟, presents recommendations for the intake of free sugar in order to prevent noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) (cf. 2015: 6). The WHO lists four main types of NCDs: cardiovascular diseases, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes, different kinds of cancer, chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma and lastly diabetes (WHO 2016, website). On the intake of free sugars the WHO (2015: 1) states:

There is increasing concern that intake of free sugars ;…Ϳ increases overall ener- gy intake and may reduce the intake of foods containing more nutritionally ade- quate calories, leading to an unhealthy diet, weight gain and increased risk of NCDs ;…Ϳ.Another concern is the association between intake of free sugars and deŶtal Đaries ;…Ϳ.

Due to the evidence of the WHO a reduced intake of free sugars is suggested especially for reducing body weight and dental caries (cf. 2015: 16).1 Obesity is highly correlated with the emergence of noncommunicable diseases, such as the before mentioned. The WHO recommends a reduction of free sugars to less than 10-5% of total energy intake per day (cf. 2015: 16f.). Thereby, free sugars added to foods and beverages should be taken into account as well.

1.1.2. Other Voices on Sugars and Health

NHS Choices (2015, website) refers to the current WHO Guideline from 2015, and recommeŶds ͞that free or added sugars shouldn't make up more than 5% of the energy (calories) you get from food and drink each day͟. For an adult this means no more than 30g of sugar a day, which also includes added sugars in processed foods and beverages (cf. Ibid.). MacGregor & Hashem (2014: 929) conclude that ͞sugar added to food and drink has little or no nutritional value and contributes to Đalorie iŶtake͟, which furthermore contributes to the development of obesity and dental caries. Other studies even found a link between sugars intake and cancer, especially for individuals with obesity and type 2 diabetes due to the negative effects of insulin resistance (cf. Luxton 2016, website, in accordance with Arcidiacono et al. 2012). Because of such findings members of the UK´s Consen- sus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) try to promote a similar model for Action on Sugar, to support the objectives of the WHO (cf. MacGregor & Hashem 2014: 929). Furthermore, some countries have already implemented a tax on sugar to reduce its intake (cf. Luxton 2016, website).

1.2. Articles on Big Sugar´s Politics against the WHO Guideline

In answer to the introduced 2004 WHO worldwide nutritional strategy the global sugar industry - known as Big Sugar - and especially the U.S. sugar industry, rep- resented by the Sugar Association, tried to demolish its implementation in state recommendations (cf. Boseley & McMahon 2003: 831).2 The Sugar Association even demanded that the U.S. Congress ends the funding of the WHO until the guideline would be discarded (cf. Ibid: 831). There were claims that the evidence used to develop the WHO guideline was insufficient, referring to studies that support an intake of sugars up to 25% of the daily consumption of food and drinks (cf. Boseley & McMahon 2003: 831, Mann 2004: 1068). Mann (cf. Ibid: 1068) states that some research reports have been misrepresented by members of the opposition of the WHO´s recommendation on sugars intake. The WHO was able to turn away these threads, since many independent experts came to the same conclusion, supporting a 10% limit of sugars intake (cf. Ibid: 833). The cur- rent WHO guideline (2015: 16) even pronounces for an intake of sugars no more than 5% of daily calorie intake. Boseley & McMahon(cf. 2003: 832) points out, that the Sugar Association is lobbying over 300 companies, which includes large companies like Coca-Cola. Additionally, there is some evidence showing that the Sugar Association and other companies are influencing clinical research aŶd ͞that scientists who received funding from the food industry denied a relationship be- tween consumption of sweetened beverages and weight gain five times more ofteŶ thaŶ their ĐouŶterparts ǁho didŶ’t haǀe fiŶaŶĐial ties ǁith the food iŶdus- trLJ͟ ;ColliŶs ϮϬϭϱ, ǁeďsite, in accordance with Bes-Rastrollo et al. 2013). Smith (2007, website) points out that the review of over 100 studies on soft drinks re- vealed that ͞research funded exclusively with industry money was as much as eight times more likely to result in findings positive for companies and their trade associations than studies with no industry money͟.

2. Hypertexts and the seven Standards of Textuality

First I will defiŶe the terŵ ͞hLJpertedžt͟ aŶd preseŶt its main characteristics, so that I can relate the seven standards of textuality to this specific text type after- wards.

2.1. Hypertexts and its main Features

Hypertexts can be described as non- or multi-linear, multimodal or -medial texts that can be computerized (cf. Brinker, Cölfen & Pappert 2014: 81, Luginbühl 2005: 427ff.). According to Schubert (cf. 2008: 118) hypertexts do not necessary have to be computerized. Printed texts can also show some kind of non-linearity or multimediality, for example if they include footnotes which link to notes or other references. Printed texts can also include any kind of pictures and graphs, still electronic hypertexts are multimedial to a higher extent, as seen above (cf. Schubert 2008: 120). They can additionally include acoustic signals, video clips and animations. Electronic hypertexts can be interactive or multimodal to a high extent, since the user is able to freely navigate through the hypertext and fur- thermore comment on any web content he likes and communicate via Chat or E- Mail in a dialogue form (cf. Schubert 2008: 118, Luginbühl 2005: 428). Hypertexts are non-linear, since the user is free to choose his or her way of reception of the different nodes of a text (cf. Schubert 2008: 118, Luginbühl 2005: 428, Storrer 2004: 13). If we think of any given website, we can clearly see that the whole content of a web page is organized modularly. Via links, which is functioning as a trigger, the user is able to move from one root text to another target text within the given website (cf. Schubert 2008: 119). Usually there is some kind of global orientation device, which helps the user to capture the full web content and to jump from one node to any another content of the same website and back (cf. Ibid: 123). In Fig. 1 the navigation bar of the U.S. Sugar homepage is firmly an- chored on the top of the page, so that it can be accessed at any time while browsing:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Fig. 1: Navigation bar of the U.S. Sugar homepage

Sometimes web pages can even refer to other target texts, which are located outside of a certain website in the World Wide Web:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Fig. 2: Hypertext linking from British Sugar to Sugar Nutrition UK

The World Wide Web can therefore be seen as a hypertext net, which organizes different hypertexts and e-texts3 and connects them through linking (cf. Schubert 2008: 121, Luginbühl 2005: 425, Storrer 2004: 13). In Fig. 2 the British Sugar homepage links4 to the website5 of the Sugar Nutrition UK website which pro- vides further information on the nutritional value and use of sugars. On the Brit- ish Sugar website the link works as a trigger which, when activated by the user, accesses the starting page of Sugar Nutrition UK.


1 For further information on the underlying methods see the guideline (2015: 2, 8ff.).

2 For detailed information on the reasons of the U.S. government and Big Sugar to oppose the WHO guideline (2003), see Cannon (2004: 375, 378f.).

3 E-texts are electronically published texts, which are organized linearly and thus cannot be seen as hypertexts themselves, but they can still be included in such (cf. Schubert 2008: 121).

4 Source:

5 Source:

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Debating the Nutritional Value of Sugar. An Evaluation of the Websites of U.S. Sugar and British Sugar in Connection to the WHO Guidelines for Sugars Intake
University of Potsdam  (Institut für Anglistik/Amerikanistik)
Seminar: Texts in Context
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ISBN (Book)
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Text analysis, Sugar, Evaluation of Websites, WHO, Sugar intake, US Sugar
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Henriette Frädrich (Author), 2016, Debating the Nutritional Value of Sugar. An Evaluation of the Websites of U.S. Sugar and British Sugar in Connection to the WHO Guidelines for Sugars Intake, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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