Chapter 2 Plan – Not Strong Enough
24 June 2018
Whilst we welcome the Government’s intention to half childhood obesity by 2030, the actions taken so far and further suggested actions in chapter 2 are not nearly strong enough to achieve this aim. The further actions are largely consultations by the end of this year, it is not clear why this has not already been done given the original plan was published two years ago.
Action on Sugar wrote to the Prime Minister and Jeremy Hunt and called for the following:
- Reformulation on sugar and calories. Progress has been slow e.g. no fall in sugar levels in confectionery. Therefore, reformulation must be made mandatory as called for by major food companies or develop a tax on confectionery and unhealthy food with the opportunity to reformulate similar to the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, as this would cause a major reduction in calorie intake and raise substantial amount of tax revenue.
- Only healthy products, not high in fat, salt and sugar should be marketed across all platforms, including TV, digital and print marketing.
- Uniform traffic light labels on out of home food rather than just calorie labelling.
Kawther Hashem, Researcher and Nutritionist at Action on Sugar says: “The governments’ lack of commitment is shown by their need to consult on banning energy drinks to children, even though many retailers have already done this. It seems unnecessary to consult, when we need a ban immediately, particularly since the government has already stated that these drinks have been linked to a catalogue of health issues in children.”
Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Action on Sugar and Action on Salt says: “
“The escalating cost of the UK crisis of obesity and type 2 diabetes needs strong action led by government. The plan so far clearly lacks firm commitment and only promises consultations by the end of the year. Why has this not already been done given the original plan was published two years ago?
What’s missing is a fully joined up action based campaign which includes: uniform traffic light labels on out of home food rather than just calorie labelling, mandatory reformulation on sugar and calories, a levy on confectionery or unhealthy food with the opportunity to reformulate and only healthy products (not high in fat, salt and sugar) should be marketed across all platforms, including TV, digital and print marketing. Simply consulting about the nation’s biggest public health crisis is not going to save lives.”
Summary of seven evidence-based actions:
1. Reduce calorie intake by incremental reformulation*
a. To achieve a 50% reduction in sugar content across all products
b. To achieve a 20% reduction in energy-density in unhealthy food and drink products (focused on saturated fat)
2. Reduce salt intake by incremental reformulation to below 6g/day (adults), and less for children.*
*If companies do not comply to actions 1 and 2, then reformulation should be made mandatory.
3. Escalate the Soft Drinks Industry Levy and introduce a confectionary levy
a. Sugar-sweetened drinks - the current threshold of 5g and 8g per 100ml should be slowly reduced and the amount of levy paid slowly escalated.
b. Confectionery - a similar levy should be introduced for confectionery, with the opportunity to reformulate based not on sugar content, but on energy density.
4. Ensure only healthy products (not high in fat, salt and sugar) are marketed, promoted and advertised.
5. Ensure all products sold and provided in the public sector, e.g. schools, hospitals, meet strict nutritional standards.
6. Make uniform colour-coded labelling on front-of-pack mandatory on all products sold in retail and out-of-home, with stricter criteria for sugar.
7. Ensure the food and drink industry increases fruit and vegetable content of products through reformulation, promotion and marketing.