Sugar Reduction Progress Report shows work still to be done

Sugar Reduction Progress Report shows work still to be done

22 May 2018

Reacting to Public Health England’s publication of its first update on the sugar reduction and wider reformulation programme, the British Dietetic Association (BDA) has expressed its initial disappointment at the lack of progress made. Only a 2% reduction in sugar content, against a target of 5%, has been achieved across the ten categories of food that contribute the most sugar to children’s diets. It is clear that much more work is needed, and some manufacturers and retailers need to step up their game in order to help protect children’s health.

It is very positive to see that 5% reductions have been achieved in three categories – Breakfast Cereal, Sweet Spreads and Sauces, and Yoghurts and Fromage Frais –    which serves to highlight just how much it was possible to achieve in this timeframe. Other categories have seen some progress but two –  Biscuits and Chocolate Confectionary – have seen no change at all. Most disappointingly, the Puddings category has actually seen a slight (1%) increase in sugar content overall.

There is a lot of variation within the data and some individual manufacturers and retailers appear to have made very significant progress in reducing both sugar contents and calories per portion, which is to be welcomed. Conversely, a number of others appear to have made very little, if any progress. Within just one category – Biscuits, which saw no overall change – one manufacturer managed to reduced its total sugar levels by 8.8% while another saw its total sugar levels rise by 3.7%.

Information for two categories (Cakes and Morning Goods) and for the out of home sector is more limited, making it more difficult to assess progress.

Commenting on the report, BDA Head of External Affairs, Jo Instone, said “We recognise that there are limitations in the data and that these are the early stages of the reformulation programme. However, it is disappointing to have such significant gaps and for a number of manufacturers to have refused to allow information on their progress to be published”.

“Clearly, it will be important for the BDA, the Obesity Health Alliance and others to continue working with Public Health England and the government to drive this programme forward. We would hope that the 2019 report can fill in a number of gaps and that we will see more substantial progress made across the board. The reformulation programme can only ever be part a of the solution to the problem of childhood obesity, and we hope the government will announce further action on issues such as broadcast advertising, in store promotions and funding for evidence-based interventions to help children maintain a healthy weight.”



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Notes to the Editor:

  • Read the PHE sugar reduction report here:
  • The British Dietetic Association (BDA), founded in 1936, is the professional association and trade union for dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the nation’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals with over 9,000 members.
  • Dietitians are highly qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems at an individual and wider public health level. They are statutorily regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), alongside other Allied Health Professions.
  • Dietitians use the most up to date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease, which they translate into practical guidance to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices. They work in the NHS, private practice, industry, education, research, sport, media and government. Their advice influences food and health policy across the spectrum from government and global industry to local communities and individuals.
  • @BrDieteticAssoc

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