Breaking News on Food & Beverage Development - EuropeUS edition | Asian edition

Headlines > Business

Sugar targets ‘counter productive’ in obesity battle

Post a comment

By Mike Stones+

27-Jun-2014
Last updated the 27-Jun-2014 at 13:37 GMT

Mandatory sugar targets would hinder not help progress towards sugar reduction, said Jebb
Mandatory sugar targets would hinder not help progress towards sugar reduction, said Jebb

Introducing sugar targets, in a bid to battle Britain’s obesity crisis, would be counter-productive, said Susan Jebb, ahead of a key report from Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN).

Jebb – who is chair of the Public Health Responsibility Deal Food Network – said it would delay progress in implementing further cuts in the sugar contents of food and drink.

“The reason I worry about setting mandatory targets is that there is a real danger it will slow down the real progress we are already making,” Jebb told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “The big companies have already committed to at least 5% reductions.

‘Big companies may stop further work’

“If we bring in a target of 5%, the pressure will fall on the small family businesses to fall into line. In  giving them the time to do that to meet the regulations, the big companies may well stop the further work they are doing,” said Jebb, who is professor of diet and population health at Oxford University.

“So, while we are making good progress, for heaven’s sake, let’s keep going with it.”

But reformulation was not the whole answer to challenge of cutting obesity, she continued. “There are other areas – particularly around promotion and marketing – where I don’t think you can do this with a voluntary approach. We will need some harder policies.”

But Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of Action on Sugar (AoS) and Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), insisted mandatory targets were the only way to cut obesity levels which now affected one third of UK adults and a fifth of children. “No, we have tried that [voluntary action] for the past 20 years,” he told the programme. MacGregor is taking part in a free one-hour obesity webinar next Thursday. See details below.

‘Ultra processed fast food’

“We are faced by a crisis. The crisis is due to the [fact] ultra processed fast food contains huge amounts of sugar, fat and salt and we’ve got to get them [food manufacturers and the soft drinks industry] to reform to get these things down. We have successfully reformed salt in the UK by getting the industry to get it down in all the products you buy and all the meals you buy. We need to do the same for sugar and fat.”

Jebb said the big drinks companies had committed to at least 5% reductions and some were making reductions of 20% or 30%. “Coca-Cola has introduced smaller can sizes from 330 to 250ml. That will cut calories,” she added.

Read the three key recommendations of the SACN report here .

Meanwhile, MacGregor will be taking part in an free, independent one-hour webinar on the roots and remedies of the obesity crisis on Thursday, July 3 at 1100 GMT. The Food Manufacture Group online seminar – Obesity and health: the big fat, sugar and salt debate – will be staged in association with the Institute of Food Science & Technology and backed by the British Dietetic Association and Nutrition Society.

Taking part will be speakers from the National Institute for Health Research, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), CASH and AoS and Leeds University.

Book your free place here

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Related products

On demand Supplier Webinars

Colouring Foods: Market trends and technical challenges
DIANA, FOOD DIVISION
All supplier webinars