Nottingham's branch of British Heart Foundation aims to raise funds for research at Nottingham Hospital

A leading British charity is urging people to leave behind chocolate for a month in its nationwide campaign.

DECHOX is a sponsored challenge run by the British Heart Foundation aiming to spread awareness against the dangers of too much sugar and raise money for research.

Having ran successfully for the past four years with over 55,000 people taking up the challenge the mostly digital campaign will use social media to spread information.

Encouraging people to give up sweets in February, Nottingham’s campaign is geared towards raising funds the charity’s life saving research at Nottingham Hospital.

Aside from volunteers, the campaign is also supported by the retail staff. Staff member Alison Swarbrooke, 52, believes the campaign is a great way to teach you to control sugar intake.

She said: “Every charity comes up with something to raise money and spread awareness. If you have too much chocolate it leads to diabetes and that may cause heart disease.

“Just like Dry January, everyone is trying to find something with health benefits, and for us that’s cutting out sugar.”

“A well-balanced diet is probably more important than eliminating certain foods altogether.”

ellie, 30, Studio chocolate

She also hopes that the campaign encourages the discovery of a healthier alternative to chocolate.

Despite the many benefits of the challenge, it could adversely affect several Nottingham businesses that market themselves as a sweets haven.

But Pudding Pantry, in Trinity Square, which offers a range of low and no sugar alternatives could appeal to people even if they are cutting out sweets.

Karen, 21, said: “In our case, it’s all about the customers’ choice. If they want to be a bit naughty and treat themselves that’s fine. But we also have a lot savoury options and no sugar sweets as well.”

She added that the campaign is a good idea, but it depends on the willpower of people to stay away from chocolate.

Hotel Chocolat’s and other businesses that offer of luxury chocolates may see a drop in sale over a month of “dechox”

Ellie, 30, Head of Communications at Nottingham chocolate shop, Studio Chocolate believes there is no point in giving up chocolate if the rest of your lifestyle is unhealthy.

Suggesting alternatives, she said: “Reducing your saturated fat intake, trying a more plant based diet and reducing alcohol are all things that will help reduce the risk of heart disease. Doing some exercise, as well as avoiding smoking and drugs are also really important.

“A well-balanced diet is probably more important than eliminating certain foods altogether. “

She added that not all chocolate is bad for you, with dark chocolate dairy-free and low-sugar being the healthiest.

Ellie also believes chocolate is special, and should be enjoyed in moderation instead of being cut out completely.

For further information on the DECHOX challenge visit the British Heart Foundation Website