The Politics of Sugar Part 3

The UK Government and Public Health England (the government’s independent advisor on health matters) have given in to pressure and released the delayed report on sugar intake in England and what we should do about it, if anything.  The Guardian newspaper has got an early leaked copy and has published it here:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/22/sugar-report-delayed-jeremy-hunt-tax-radical-action-obesity

The eight recommendations are:

  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 above. 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 (GBSF) across the public sector, including national and local government and the NHS to the ensure 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.

The fifth (but only the fifth) was a recommendation that the government put a levy on high-sugar foods of between 10-20% which seems like a very broad range to me and the third item is to define what those high sugar foods might be. I haven’t read the report yet but I hope that they are talking about the full range of sugars and that different sugars may be described as high in different circumstances. For example extrinsic sugars being considered “higher” than the same quantity of intrinsic sugars. We will see.

Meanwhile the UK press would never let the story get in the way of a good headline.
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