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New Research Shows Huge Differences in Sugar Levels

27 October 2016

New Research Shows Huge Differences in Sugar Levels

Action on Sugar is today urging food manufacturers to get behind Public Health England’s voluntary reformulation programme[1] in helping tackle the biggest public health crisis facing Britain today and save the NHS from bankruptcy.

Following the curtailed childhood obesity plan announced in August 2016,[2] Action on Sugar has found that some companies put far less sugar in their best-selling products compared to others. For full details see attached document.[3] This means that the government’s reformulation target of a 20% reduction in sugar can be easily achieved well before 2020. Action on Sugar is now calling on ALL food manufacturers to follow by example, and lead the world.

The new product survey of foods commonly consumed by children including breakfast cereals, yoghurts, biscuits, cakes, confectionery, pastries, ice creams and chocolate spreads shows that product comparisons with less sugar already exist on the market for example; ASDA Smart Price Vanilla Flavour Ice Cream (7.9g) contains 46% less sugars compared to Waitrose Duchy Organic Vanilla Ice Cream (14.5g sugars per 100g) and Organix Goodies Gingerbread Men Biscuits (18.8g) contains 38% less sugars versus McVitie's Mini Gingerbread Men (30.4g sugars per 100g) – demonstrating that reducing sugar is possible for manufacturers.

Reformulation, whereby the sugar and sweetness in products are gradually reduced, is by far the most important strategy to prevent obesity, providing the calorie content is also reduced. In addition to reformulation companies must also reduce portion size and shift purchasing patterns to healthier options. Industry now has a limited window of opportunity to prove that a voluntary reformulation programme can work. However, if they do not, we will need to have mandatory targets as called for by the supermarkets.[4] Indeed, a recent poll for the Huffington Post found that 71% of UK adults believe the law should be changed to reduce the amount of sugar in products, such as cereal and yoghurts.[5]

Action on Sugar will be closely monitoring the work of all food companies to ensure they are committed to preventing obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay in future generations.

Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of Action on Sugar says, “The Reformulation Plan is one of the most effective ways of reducing sugar and, if done properly, the UK will lead the world. We therefore urge the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to fully support it and commit the government to both fat reformulation (as it's the biggest source of calories than sugar) and to start restrictions of marketing, advertising and promotion of unhealthy foods.”

Registered Nutritionist Kawther Hashem, Researcher at Action on Sugar says, “Our survey clearly shows that companies can easily make products with much less sugar. Currently they are profiting from selling high sugar foods, which put children at risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. Unhealthy foods are the biggest cause of death and disability in the UK and it is time the food industry took their responsibility for this seriously.

“They now need to make this a priority and ensure children are not eating 3 times their maximum intake of sugar.”

Registered Nutritionist Jenny Rosborough, Campaign Manager at Action on Sugar says:

“The salt reduction programme, which is saving thousands of lives every year, has shown us how reformulation programmes can have a major impact on public health. This is the start of a successful sugar reduction programme which can pave the way for calorie reduction targets, which are due to be launched next year. However, if some companies refuse to take part we will be calling on the public to boycott their products.”

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