A summit on sugar labelling and reductio, which was held on Wednesday at the House of Commons inside the palace of Westminster, has called for a 20 per cent reduction in sugar by the industry before 2020.
The aim of this summit was to identify precise targets for action to encourage greater uptake of healthy options beyond the government’s current obesity plan and sugar tax.
It also touched upon interventions that did not work well in the past and why that is, as well as how we can better monitor overall progress with food and drink companies, and mobilise stronger international support.
This event, set up by Rend Platings from the organising think tank Sugarwise, brought together a number of retailers, charities and influential stakeholders, including the Department of Health, Public Health England, British Soft Drinks Association and the Food and Drink Federation.
Action on Sugar’s campaign manager, Jenny Rosborough, opened the summit by telling the assembly that there is more to obesity than just sugar, but it remains a very good vehicle for getting attention on the issue.
For the past two years, Action on Sugar has been trying to get the government to release an obesity plan, an initiative which has been partly successful.
Branded ‘pathetic’, the new childhood obesity strategy that was released in August was not well received among most anti-obesity campaigners, who felt that the industry has got off quite lightly in terms of what really needed to be done in order to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Some Action on Sugar spokesmen have called to reduce sweetness preference and reformulate foods to reduce sugars while other participants have said that we can’t reformulate our way out of obesity, that more was needed from industry and policy.
Before getting into the new proposals, the panel has been raising a couple of issues with current sugar-free labelling and the sugar tax, such as the consequences of Brexit on future food labelling changes.
For Sugarwise representatives, food labelling is just a part of the puzzle. It is our whole food environment that needs to change to help people make healthier choices.
A strong reformulation programme is, according to Rosborough, the best measure to reduce sugar consumption. She announced that it will mimic the salt reduction plan recently published by Public Health England.
It will also include a pledge for the food and drink industry to commit to a 20 per cent sugar reduction in their products over the next 4 years.
As for the sugar tax, Tam Fry, from the Obesity Forum, reported this week’s news that the World Health Organisation declared all governments should put a 20 per cent tax on sugars.

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