In a BBC breakfast interview this morning, Susan Jebb, a senior adviser in the government’s battle against obesity, warned people away from sources of sugar, such as cakes and biscuits.
In a discussion which stemmed from the issue of consuming less sugary drinks, Dr Jebb also voiced her support for the idea of taxing sugar.
Today has been dubbed ‘Sugar Thursday’ – the day when the Public Health England’s sugar reduction strategy is to be released.
Dr Jebb told the BBC: “There isn’t just going to be one solution to this, we are going to have to have a raft of different polices, which target not only sugary drinks, but also the other big sources of sugar in the diet, things like confectionery and indeed cakes and biscuits as well.
“I think we are seeing industries coming forward with ways that will help us reduce our sugar intake - and that’s to be welcomed - but I think as individuals we’ve also got to get out of the habit of seeing things like chocolate, biscuits, cakes and confectionery as routine everyday occurrences and to get back to seeing them as an occasional treat.”
Dr Jebb advised people to change from processed foods to what she referred to as a ‘Mediterranean diet’ which is richer in fruit, vegetables and high-fibre wholegrain carbohydrates.
Dr Sally Norton, NHS weight loss surgeon, has also responded to the proposed plans for sugar reduction.
She said: “We have all been waiting for the realisation of a tax on sugary drinks, as recommended by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AOMRC) over a year ago and also by the Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, back in March.”
“But would a tax on sugary drinks work in reality? It is always difficult to know, as trying to change behaviour by increasing taxes can have unanticipated effects that must be carefully evaluated.”
Dr Norton also called for a cut in the portion sizes of sugary snacks.
She said: “Let’s tackle those crazy-sized servings, as well as provide clear health warnings about the sugar content in foods, as obesity is right up there with tobacco as a health issue - so why shouldn’t high-sugar foods carry the same level of health warnings to consumers?”
Scientific guidance on carbohydrates in the diet, including sugar, is expected to be issued by the government’s advisory committee on nutrition today.