NEWS: Dundee hosts the first Know Sugar Shop

25 August 2014

Know Sugar Shop, one of Design in Action’s Chiasma-funded projects, launched its first physical store in Dundee this month.

The very stylish, pop-up shop was located in the city’s Wellgate shopping centre with one goal: to educate and inform the people of Dundee about the dangers of sugar overconsumption and the benefits of a lower-sugar diet.

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Dundee-based MSP Jenny Marra opened the store on Friday 8th August, stating that she supported the project’s ethos, “I am delighted to open the Know Sugar Shop in Dundee. We are eating too much sugar and it has a terrible impact on our health, weight and happiness so we have to think hard about how much sugar we consume.”

For two days, the Know Sugar team – made up of Snook Co-Founder Lauren Currie, Ewan MacPherson, Eilidh Ellery and Andy Harrold – along with a dynamic posse of nutritionists, diabetes experts, creative producers, photographers, enthusiasts and DiA helpers rallied shoppers, workers and passers-by and provided them with a one-stop shop to enhancing their awareness of the sugar content in everyday food and drinks.

Sugar Expert

Visitors were invited to choose a profile and map their personal awareness of sugar levels before taking the Know Sugar Challenge whereby they could choose to undertake an Easy, Medium or Hard change to their current lifestyle. There were also opportunities to have an in-depth health check, visit the Open Kitchen and take away a ready-made ‘grab bag’ of healthy, low-sugar ingredients and write a personal pledge as to how they intend to change their habits.

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The project’s vision is that by encouraging users to rethink their relationship with sugar and agree to take some steps to reduce their sugar intake – even small ones – we’re more likely to be a healthier, happier nation.

Lauren said: “We hope Know Sugar Shop will educate, inform and inspire citizens to rethink their relationship with sugar and take positive action. I believe there is a gap for this initiative because a lot of nutrition advice out there is very negative; people being told that they’re doing wrong. We want Know Sugar to be a positive experiences – it’s not about preaching.”

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The Know Sugar Shop spin on this hot health topic not only attracted the attention of local passers-by but has also featured heavily on the STV News. To watch the TV coverage, click here. Or to read their follow-up article, click here.

Wellgate Centre Manager, Jon Walton, who provided the fledgling project a huge service by allowing them to hold their first store in the popular shopping mall has told the team they’d be welcome back anytime. It now looks like there’ll be another event happening in October.  Commending them on their efforts he said, “It is highly important to bring this information to members of the community and the shopping centre is the ideal environment to host the Know Sugar Shop.”

And the proof was in the (sugar-free) pudding as over 700 Dundonians flocked to the test site over the two day trial period with many commenting that the service should be made available permanently. Given the unit was set-up to test the waters for developing a sustainable business model, the future is looking up for Know Sugar.

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But, before we look too far into the future, we have to delve into the past, slightly, and see how this exciting, groundbreaking and on-message initiative got started….

February 2013. The very first Design in Action Chiasma is taking place in Glasgow’s stylish Citizen M boutique hotel with 22 participants from a wealth of backgrounds ready to embark upon 3 days (and 2 nights) of creative ideation techniques.

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Led by Design in Action’s team of researchers around the Wellbeing sector, it primarily focused on self-management and prevention of type-2 diabetes, an issue that affects an estimated 3.8 million people living in the UK today. The event combined passionate and informative keynote speeches (including one from Hollywood actor, University of Dundee Rector and presenter of the BB2 ‘Addicted to…Sugar’ documentary, Brian Cox) with design-thinking activities and processes to inspire its participating teams to uncover and develop innovative solutions around this issue. The best ideas then have the opportunity to apply for up to £20k funding to build a prototype for commercialisation.

One of the most innovative ideas presented was Know Sugar. Originally called ‘No Sugar Shop’, (the name changed during the development process as an acknowledgement to the many foods that contain good sugar), it impressed the Chiasma judges with its clever use of user-centred design and co-design alongside its clear and worthy agenda; to reduce sugar consumption in children and adults, to prompt retailers to take positive action to address the amount of hidden sugars in their products and, ultimately, to change policy.

With the success of the prototype Know Sugar Shop, we’d say this goal is just around the corner especially if the team maintains its determination and verve.

Lauren agrees: ‘”We could not have done this without the energy and generosity of the volunteers and the team behind it! It was a massive effort by all and I’m so very grateful!”

If you’d like to find out more about the Know Sugar initiative or even undertake a KnowSugar challenge, please visit their website: knowsugar.org.

t: @knowsugar

f: knowsugar 

Storify: wearesnook/knowsugarshop