New Sugary Drinks Policy Launched by Experts at the British Dietetic Association12 January 2015
The British Dietetic Association (BDA) has produced a new policy statement on sugary drinks entitled Interventions Which Reduce the Consumption of Energy from Sugary Drinks in Children.
The British Dietetic Association, founded in 1936, is the professional association for dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the nation’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals with 8,000 members. The BDA is also an active trade union.
The new policy statement clearly identifies that we are consuming too much added sugar in the nation’s diet, especially in those aged between four and 18 years of age, and calls for:
- A range of public policies to reduce the frequency and amount of sugary drinks consumed by children and adolescents.
- The principle of a tax on sugary drinks as part of a range of measures that will be essential to reduce obesity and improve diet.
- School based education programmes as an example of interventions which may offer health professionals the best opportunities for implementing cost effective and sustainable interventions which are effective in children and adolescents.
Speaking about the BDA Sugary Drinks policy statement, Amanda Avery, who is dietitian that specialises in obesity management, commented:
“All the credible evidence highlights that, as a nation, we are consuming too much sugar in our diet. In addition, the current recommendation from The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) is for the current daily amount of recommended sugar to be significantly reduced.
“In particular, it is clear that children and young people are taking in the greatest amount of sugar and this trend is on the up. It is time that we addressed this issue in a clear and concerted way and the BDA is calling on a collective approach to help curb the sweet tooth on the nation.”
The full policy can be found in the Notes to the Editor below.
Interviews and addition copy can be facilitated by the BDA Press Office.
For more information / interview requests,
0800 048 1714
Notes to the Editor:
- Visit the BDA website at www.bda.uk.com.
- Dietitians are the only qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems at an individual and wider public health level. Uniquely, 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.
- Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be statutorily regulated, and governed by an ethical code, to ensure that they always work to the highest standard. Dietitians work in the NHS, private practice, industry, education, research, sport, media, public relations, publishing, non-government organisations and government. Their advice influences food and health policy across the spectrum from government, local communities and individuals.
- The BDA’s Interventions Which Reduce the Consumption of Energy from Sugary Drinks in Children policy statement, is as follows.
Interventions which reduce the consumption of energy from sugary drinks in children
We are eating too much sugar1
Reports published by The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) and Public Health England in 2014 2-3, 7 make a consistent and compelling case for a reduction in the nation’s sugar intake.
The 2014 World Health Organisation (WHO) draft guideline1 on sugars intake proposed that sugars should be less than 10% of total energy intake per day. Such action is likely to bring about a reduction in the risk of calorie imbalance, weight gain and obesity and the associated health, well-being and dental health problems. NICE (2014)4 recommends that the frequency and amount of sugary food and drinks should be reduced to promote and protect the oral health of children and adults.
Sugary sweetened beverages (SSBs) contain added sugar and include energy drinks, squash, fizzy and carbonated ‘non-diet’ soft drinks. ‘Diet’ soft drinks are not termed SSB’s as they contain little or no added sugar; however, most are still acidic enough to harm the teeth if consumed too often.
Pure fruit juices contain natural sugar, together with some vitamins and minerals, and it is recommended that consumption is limited to one small 150ml glass daily at mealtime5.
Children and young people aged between four and 18 years eat the most sugar which accounts for around 14-15% of their daily energy intake. There has been a growing trend globally in the consumption of SSBs amongst children which provide a major source of sugar in their diet6.
Public policy initiatives to reduce sugar consumption are the subject of current debate. These include the role of the food and drinks industries in reducing the sugar content of their products, particularly those marketed at children and the suggestion of a Government ‘sugar tax’. Public Health England are currently carrying out further reviews and will be advising the Department of Health on a number of strategic options in 20153.
A broader multi factorial approach is needed to translate the evidence base into action to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks. This will include product reformulation, individual interventions, food supply chains, marketing and taxation, all within the broader context of improving overall diet quality8-9.
- Supports, and advocates for, a range of public policies to reduce the frequency and amount of sugary drinks consumed by children and adolescents.
- Supports the principle of a tax on sugary drinks as part of a range of measures that will be essential to reduce obesity and improve diet10.
- Recommends School based education programmes as an example of interventions which may offer health professionals the best opportunities for implementing cost effective and sustainable interventions which are effective in children and adolescents6.
Effectiveness of Interventions
A systematic review looking at interventions to reduce consumption of sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) in children by Avery et al5 suggests that school based education programmes may offer health professionals the best opportunities for implementing cost effective and sustainable interventions which are effective in children and adolescents.
Changing the school environment to support such programmes could improve the effectiveness of these interventions.
Interventions that concentrate on reducing energy consumption by focusing on decreasing consumption of SSBs in both primary and secondary school aged children are largely effective in reducing consumption of SSBs upon completion of the intervention.
- Educational programmes delivered via the school curriculum focusing solely on consumption of drinks can be effective in reducing the intake of SSBs and can have an impact on the percentage of overweight or obese children and reduction in BMI amongst those who are overweight.
- Use of computer or web-based nutrition education delivered via school and home may also offer an effective contemporary educational route and these interventions could be an effective tool in helping to reduce SSB consumption.
- Interventions which encourage possible alternative drinks to SSBs for children (water and diet drinks) are largely effective in reducing consumption of SSBs upon completion of the intervention and can offer some effective and practical ideas for future practice.
- A consistent strand running through the available evidence is the suggestion that maintenance sessions are necessary to remind children to maintain any change in SSB consumption over time.
1. World Health Organisation (WHO) Draft sugars consultation children and adults 2014 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2014/consultation-sugar-guideline/en/ (accessed 26/11/2014).
2. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN). Consultation on draft SACN Carbohydrates and Health report (June-September 2014)
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/33977 1/Draft_SACN_Carbohydrates_and_Health_report_consultation.pdf (accessed 26/11/2014)
3. Public Health England. Sugar reduction: Responding to the challenge. 2014. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/324043/Sugar_Reduction_Responding_to_the_Challenge_26_June.pdf (accessed 26/11/2014).
4. National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Public Health Guidance 2014. Oral health: approaches for local authorities and their partners to improve the oral health of their communities https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph55 (accessed 26/11/2014).
5. A.Avery, L.Bostock and F.McCullough. A systematic review investigating interventions that can help reduce consumption of sugar sweetened beverages in children leading to change in body fatness. 19th Sept 2014. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jhn.12267/full (accessed 26/11/2014).
6. NHS Choices. Behind the Headlines. Give kids water not sugary fruit juice, parents advised. http://www.nhs.uk/news/2014/06June/Pages/Give-kids-water-not-sugary-fruit-juice-parents-told.aspx (accessed 26/11/2014).
7. Editorial: Sugar moving from evidence to action. Public Health Nutrition / Volume 17 / Issue 10 / October 2014, pp 2147-2147 http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9344510&utm_source=Issue_Alert&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=PHN (accessed 26/11/2014).
8. A. Anderson Sugars and health. Invited commentary risk assessment to risk management. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9344536&fileId=S1368980014001839 (accessed 26/11/2014).
9. Sustain: A Children's Future Fund - How food duties could provide the money to protect children’s health and the world they grow up in http://sustainweb.org/publications/?id=263 (accessed 26/11/2014).
10. BDA Food Fact Sheet: Sugar (2014). https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/Sugar (accessed 15/12/2014).
This BDA Policy Statement was developed by the BDA in conjunction with The Dietitians in Obesity Management (DOMUK) Specialist Group of the BDA.