Know Sugar Shop: Dundee’s world first on how to live a low-sugar lifestyle

Dundee’s Wellgate Shopping Centre is to host the first pop-up shop focused on raising awareness of Scotland’s ticking health time bomb.

For two days - 8th and 9th August - the Know Sugar Shop will open to test an idea that has the potential to change our nation’s relationship with sugar. The prototype will challenge Scotland’s collective sweetie tooth and highlight the amount of hidden ‘bad’ sugars we consume every day.

Often cast by its own mainstream media as the modern ‘sick man of Europe’, Scotland is a nation hooked on its love of sugar, with around 220,000 people estimated to have type-2 diabetes, and a further 20,000 having gone undiagnosed. It is further claimed that obesity accounts for 80 per cent of Scots living with type-2 diabetes, connective to the dangers of high sugar consumption.

The Know Sugar Shop pilot will take the form of a non-transactional, interactive retail space where visitors will profile map their personal awareness of their sugar consumption, take the Know Sugar challenge, obtain an in-depth health check, and interact with a prototype kitchen space where you will find ready-made ‘grab bags’ and ingredients which can be prepared into full low sugar meals. On exiting, visitors are invited to focus on future changes in their relationship with the sweet stuff by completing the Now I Know Sugar, my pledge is… chalkboard.

The original idea grew from an event hosted by the University of Dundee’s Design in Action project. The focus of the chiasma event in Glasgow earlier this year was to develop new ideas for the wellbeing sector, specifically type-2 diabetes.

Present at the meeting was Hollywood actor and Rector of the University of Dundee, Brian Cox, who made a passionate presentation relating to his own diagnosis of type-2 diabetes.

The Know Sugar concept emerged, led by design agency Snook. Co-founder Lauren Currie is a graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, part of the University of Dundee.

She said, “We hope Know Sugar Shop will educate, inform and inspire citizens to re-think their relationship with sugar and take positive action.

“There is rarely a day that passes without sugar being on our TVs or in our newspapers. Sugar being dubbed ‘the new nicotine’ has been a huge source of inspiration and drive for our team.”

The Know Sugar concept impressed the chiasma judges in its smart use of user and co-centred design. From the outset, its agenda was threefold; focusing on ways to reduce the amount of sugar consumed by both children and adults, prompting retailers of all sizes to take positive action to address the sugar issue and, ultimately, to change future government policy.

Brian McNicoll, business partnership manager at Design in Action, saw the potential in the idea from the start. Snook, in collaboration with Andy Harrold, Founder of Buro Design Thinking, social designer, Eilidh Ellery, and Ewan Macpherson, Director of business strategy and innovation firm, Ideality, have pulled together to make the concept an early stage reality.

On the countdown to the Know Sugar Shop pop-up launch, Mr McNicoll said, “There is an obvious need for more awareness around this subject matter, and without the chiasma event this group of highly-engaged and talented people wouldn’t have had the opportunity to come together and come up with something as innovative as Know Sugar.

“We are delighted to be funding this project, which can make a real difference to how we view our relationship with sugar and tackle the problems associated with it. We are also extremely grateful to the Wellgate Centre who are providing the unit for the pop-up shop.”

Jon Walton, Centre Manager of Wellgate, said he is delighted to support this innovative event which will be held in Unit 18 on the second floor of the Centre, close to Bhs.  “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,” said Mr Walton.

To broaden the launch profile and expertise involvement, the Know Sugar Shop team are welcoming volunteers to help with the physical installation of the shop space and the running of its live format over the two days. Locals and people across Scotland are encouraged to drop by to offer feedback on the ideas being prototyped.

To get involved or learn more around Know Sugar:


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Roddy Isles
Head of Press
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