Action on Sugar slams government obesity report

A leaked copy of David Cameron’s Childhood Obesity Strategy has prompted campaign group Action on Sugar (AoS) to call for its revision.

AoS said the government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy, which has now been delayed until the autumn, does not go far enough. The campaign group called on prime minister Theresa May to revise what it said “should have been one of the UK’s most important public health programmes”.

Key findings from the leaked draft plan include:

Reformulation
The plan aims for a 20% reduction in people’s sugar consumption by 2020, but presents no further plans for further reformulation and no mention of reformulation of soft drinks sweetened with sugar. AoS has asked for a 50% reduction in sugar consumption and a 20% reduction in fat consumption.

Soft drink levy/tax
The plan states there will be a soft drink levy, but this still has to go through parliament. AoS said: “In the current environment following Brexit, the chances of it being made into law have now been significantly reduced.”

Advertising, marketing and promotion
AoS said: “Extraordinarily, there are no specifics about any marketing restrictions and [the plan] merely says there will be a consultation, which is a pathetic response given the billions of pounds the food industry spends on advertising to young children of unhealthy products.”

It added: “The remainder of the plan addresses healthy school eating, government institutions, better labelling and advice on how to eat healthy – none of which have been shown to have any effect on calorie intake.”

Action on Sugar estimated the plan in its current form will only reduce calorie intake by around 10-20Kcal/person/day as a maximum. “This is nowhere near enough to have any real effect on preventing obesity,” it said.

It added: “Very disappointingly there is only a general sentence that salt reduction will be reviewed. The UK salt reduction programme has now been on hold for over a year in spite of the fact that the evidence from the UK has shown that this is the single most cost-effective public health policy already saving the NHS £1.5bn per year, according to NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence).”

Last month AoS said most breakfast bars contain the same or more sugar than a bowl of Kellogg’s Coco Pops.

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