New figures from England’s public health body reveal that between 2015 and 2018 there was a 2.9% reduction in sugar content in shop-bought food in the country.
This is despite Public Health England challenging the food industry to reduce 20% of sugar from the food categories contributing the most to children’s diets by 2020.
A new report from the executive agency reveals that some food categories have shown greater progress. Retailer own-brand and manufacturer-branded yogurts and fromage frais, and breakfast cereals reduced sugar by 10.3% and 8.5% respectively.
Meanwhile, for the out-of-home sector, there was a 4.9% reduction in sugar since 2015.
The report also looks at progress made under the UK’s sugar tax, which was introduced last year. There was a 28.8% sugar reduction per 100ml in retailer own-brand and manufacturer-branded products and a 27.2% reduction per 100ml for drinks consumed out of home.
There has also been a consumer shift towards zero- or lower-sugar products, with sugar purchased from soft drinks decreasing in all socio-economic groups.
“We are seeing some encouraging progress from the food industry,” said Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England. Our second-year report shows some food categories reducing sugar faster than others but this is realistic at this early stage.
“We are confident that the industry as a whole understands their responsibility to step up and deliver for children and their families.
“A third of children leave primary school overweight or obese, while severe obesity in year 6 children has now reached an all-time high.
“To help them play their part in addressing this, businesses have three options to meet the 20% ambition: reduce sugar levels (reformulation), produce smaller portions, or encourage consumers to purchase lower or no-sugar products.
The 20% sugar reduction target, which was announced in 2017, applies to nine food categories ‘that contribute the most’ to people’s intake of sugar. They include typically sugar-heavy foods such as biscuits, cakes, breakfast cereals and sweet spreads – as well as sources of hidden sugar like yogurt and pastries.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019