Retailers and manufacturer branded products reduced sugar content by only 3% since 2017, sparking worries over the country’s health.
This falls well below the government’s aim to reduce sugar by 20% by 2020.
In a report by Public Health England (PHE), data reveals many products display ‘little or no reduction’ in sugar levels.
For example, quantities in chocolate and sweets have reduced by just 0.4% and 0.1% respectively. Additionally, they have actually increased in puddings by 2%.
On the other hand, other products have seen a notable improvement. The sugar content in yoghurt and fromage frais are down by 12.9%, with breakfast cereals cutting it by 13.3%
Mixed progress on sugar
The introduction of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy also had a dramatic impact on sugar levels in beverages.
Statistics show a massive 43.7% reduction in the sugar content of soft drinks between 2015 and 2019.
‘Progress achieved by retailers and manufacturers at brand and product level is mixed,’ the report concludes.
‘Some businesses are making progress, whilst others are showing little or no change. Some brands are showing increases in their sales weighted average for both sugar and calorie content.’
This comes as tooth decay remains the most common reason for hospital admission in five to nine year olds.
More than 23,500 children underwent hospital treatment for tooth decay from April 2019 to the end of March 2020. This is more than double the second most common cause, acute tonsillitis (10,359).
Following the report, the British Dental Association (BDA) is now calling on ministers to take urgent action.
‘Britain is losing the war on sugar because ministers remain unwilling to really put up a fight,’ said BDA Chair Eddie Crouch.
‘Voluntary action from industry on reformulation is making next to no headway. We need a real sense of urgency, wedded to mandatory targets.
‘COVID needs to focus minds on the need for sustained action on preventable diseases like tooth decay and obesity. Hard-won gains will only slip into reverse as lockdown diets take their toll.’
You can read the full report here.
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