Public Health England’s report ‘Sugar Reduction: the Evidence for Action‘ has, rather unexpectedly been released.

The report sets out a range of tough policies that need to be taken to reduce the consumption of sugary foods and drinks that are fuelling the obesity crisis.

The report makes eight key recommendations:

  1. Reduce and rebalance the number and type of price promotions in all retail outlets including supermarkets and convenience stores and the out-of-home sector (including restaurants, cafes and takeaways).
  2. Significantly reduce opportunities to market and advertise high-sugar food and drink products to children and adults across all media including digital platforms and through sponsorship.
  3. The setting of a clear definition for high-sugar foods to aid with actions 1 and 2. Currently the only regulatory framework for doing this is via the Ofcom nutrient profiling model which would benefit from being reviewed and strengthened.
  4. Introduction of a broad, structured and transparently monitored programme of gradual sugar reduction in everyday food and drink products combined with reductions in portion size.
  5. Introduction of a price increase of a minimum of 10% to 20% on high-sugar products through the use of a tax or levy such as on full-sugar soft drinks, based on the emerging evidence of the impact of such measures in other countries.
  6. Adopt, implement and monitor the government buying standards for food and catering services across the public sector, including national and local government and the NHS to ensure the provision and sale of healthier food and drinks in hospitals, leisure centres etc.
  7. Ensure that accredited training in diet and health is routinely delivered to all of those who have opportunities to influence food choices in the catering, fitness and leisure sectors and others within local authorities.
  8. Continue to raise awareness of concerns around sugar levels in the diet to the public as well as health professionals, employers, the food industry etc encourage action to reduce intakes and provide practical steps to help people lower their own and their families sugar intake.

Robin Ireland, Director of Food Active has welcomed the report which broadly supports what public health campaigners have been calling for:

“This report is warmly welcomed by the Food Active team and sees several of our campaigning priorities outlined as direct recommendations to government. I’m pleased that our advocacy efforts over the past 12 months through Food Active and the Give Up Loving Pop campaign are supported by Public Health England’s report.”

“The recommendations within the report could put a major dent in the UK’s growing obesity problem; as long as they are implemented.”

“With this report now out in the public domain it is vital that the Government steps-up and takes these recommendations into account when producing the forthcoming Childhood Obesity Strategy. Although, slightly worryingly, we have been informed that the publication of this has been delayed until the New Year.”

“We have the evidence, we now need the action.”

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One Comment

  1. John Walker says:

    We need to move away from a Publi Health message which is about banning things and taxing people. If that is the answer then you are asking the wrong question.

    Like all authoritarian solutions it catches many of the innocent who will be resentful towards all public health messages. There are also incosistencies in the so called evidence.
    It will tax honey which has many health benefits, is already quite expensive and supports bees. It taxes fruit syrops and organic fruit juice but not fruit – regardless of sugar content. Will it spread to other refined carbohydrates and will it encourage an increase in a chemical cocktail of flavorings which will have unknown consequences and not reduce the cravings for sugar, Human nutrition is far too complex a subject for any one aspect to be targeted and to lump all foodstuffs together just based on sugar content rather than their other health benefits – the oat flapjack compared to the Mars bar.
    It also undermines the concept of food having zero-rated tax status (and possibly threatens all zero-rated taxes,

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