Sugar reduction figures paint ‘mixed picture’

The 2020 sugar reduction progress report, released by Public Health England this month, shows promising signs in some sectors, but admits there is still a long way to go.

The findings from Public Health England’s latest report show mixed results in year 2 of its voluntary sugar reduction report for manufacturers.

The latest data for in-home foods (branded and manufactured), showed the biggest improvements in yogurt and breakfast cereals (10.3% and 8.5% sugar reductions per 100g respectively), with negligible reductions in confectionary and ice cream, lollies and sorbets (0.3% per 100g) and an increase in puddings and desserts (0.5% per 100g). There was an overall reduction of 2.9% sugar per 100g in the in-home sector.

There was also a 4.9% reduction in the eating out-of-home sector, although the report stresses the two sectors should not be compared due to the difference in metrics used in reporting.

The sugar reduction programme challenges the food industry to voluntarily reduce 20% of sugar by 2020 from the foods contributing the most to children’s diets. September’s report assesses the progress made between 2015 and 2018.

According to Public Health England’s report, in England, a third of children are overweight or obese, with research showing that 80% of overweight or obese teens will become overweight adults. PHE says 50% of children’s calorie intake will fall under three programmes – the calorie and sugar reduction programmes, and the Soft Drinks Industry Levy.

Sugar reduction progress table

Summary of progress made towards Sugar Reduction 2020 goals.
Source: Public Health England

The report also assessed the reductions made since the Soft Drinks Industry Levy came into effect in April 2018. The levy required soft drinks manufacturers to reformulate or pay a levy on high-sugar soft drinks.

Products subject to the levy saw a 28.8% reduction in sugar, with over 50% of manufacturers reformulating their products. 

Public Health England’s Chief Nutritionist Alison Tedstone said, “The report shows a mixed picture. Encouragingly, some businesses have made good progress in reducing sugar but some businesses and categories have made very little or none.”

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