Our response to Public Health England’s Sugar reduction: Report on progress between 2015 and 2018

20 September 2019

We are disappointed to see that after 2 years of the Public Health England’s (PHE) sugar reformulation programme, there is only a 2.9% decrease in sugar and overall no change in calories in foods that are popular with children (for example biscuits, ice-creams or yogurt). The aim of the PHE’s sugar reformulation programme is to reduce sugar in these products by 20% by 2022 and we are not on track.

Sadly, even though there is slightly less sugar in these product categories sold in shops, more sugar was purchased per person than before. The report also reveals that over the last year sugar in food we buy out of home went down almost 5%. This would be a very good news, if it was not for the fact that at the same time calories in an average portion went up. For example, in 2018 in yogurts we bought out of home there was 23.5% less sugar but 17.5% more calories than a year before. While better for our teeth such shift is probably not the best for our waists.

The majority of people in Scotland have excess weight and this has been the case for years now. Excess weight is linked not only to numerous health conditions but also lower quality of life and shorter life. There are many reasons for this obesity epidemic and we need to address as many as we can to reverse this tide. Reformulation of food bought in shops and food available out of home is one of these steps. It is important because at stake are health, quality of life, and length of life of Scots.

Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead of Obesity Action Scotland said: “Today’s results from PHE are disappointing and show clearly that the industry are not responding to the voluntary approach and it isn’t delivering the change needed. The mandatory SDIL is delivering results and is reducing sugar. We need to consider portion sizes and we need to see a stronger regulatory approach to reformulation across food categories if we want to improve and protect our health.”