Monthly Archives: January 2016


Reducing sugar content in sugar-sweetened drinks by 40% over 5 years could prevent 300,000 cases of type 2 diabetes in the next two decades

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A new study published today in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology shows that reducing free sugars content in sugars content in sugar sweetened drinks (including fruit juices) in the UK by over 40% over five years, without replacing them with any non-nutritive sweeteners, could prevent around 300,000 cases of type 2 diabetes over two decades- with major cost savings to the NHS.

Based on the UK’s salt reduction programme that has seen salt content in many food products successfully reduced by 40% over five years, the authors decided to do a study on the effects of a similar reduction in added free sugars. Using national representative data from the 2008-2012 National Diet and Nutrition Survey rolling programme and British Soft Drinks Association annual reports, the authors calculated sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption level (both with and without fruit juices) and its contribution to free sugars and energy intakes in the UK population.

The calculations showed that a 40% reduction in free sugars added to SSBs over five years would lead to an average reduction in energy intake of 38 kcal per day by the end of the fifth year. This would lead to an average reduction in body weight of 1.20kg in adults, resulting in a reduction in overweight and obese adults by approximately half a million and 1 million respectively. This would in turn prevent between 274,000-309,000 obesity-related type 2 diabetes cases over the next two decades.

If fruit juices were excluded from SSBs, the corresponding reduction in energy intake and body weight would be 31 kcal/day and 0.96kg respectively. This would result in 300,000 fewer cases of overweight people and 800,000 fewer cases of obese individuals, which would in turn prevent around 221,000-250,000 diabetes cases over two decades. The predicted impact was greater in adolescents, young adults and individuals from low income families who consume more SSBs.

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Action on Sugar, says:

“Our study shows this strategy could have a profound impact on reducing energy intake from SSBs and could therefore lower the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the long term.”

“The Prime Minister can no longer ignore the fact that the current nutrition policies are not working. Action on Sugar has developed a coherent evidence-based strategy which starts with setting of incremental sugar reduction targets for soft drinks and a further 6 actions to follow. These actions require a government-funded but independent nutrition agency, which can set mandatory targets with robust enforcement. In support of this the British Retail Consortium is now calling for regulated sugar, fat and salt reduction targets.”

“The UK food and drink industry could lead the world in preventing obesity and type 2 diabetes.”

Registered Nutritionist Kawther Hashem, Researcher of Action on Sugar, says:

“We have become a nation hooked on the sweet stuff, expecting all our food and drink to taste incredibly sweet, and it is making us overweight and obese. Merely having the option of ‘diet’ or ‘no sugar’ products does not work. Food and drink companies must slowly and gradually reduce the sugar and the sweetness, as they have already done for salt, so we can all get used to far less sugar in our diet.”


Get ‘Sugar Smart’ this January!

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A new campaign has been launched encouraging parents to get ‘Sugar Smart’ and take control of their children’s sugar intake.

The Change4Life campaign follows revelations that four-to-10 year olds consume an estimated 5,500 sugar cubes a year (22kg), weighing the same as an average five year old.

Currently, a third of children leaving primary school are overweight or obese. This means they are more likely to become obese adults who are more prone to a range of serious health problems, such as heart disease, some cancers and Type 2 diabetes. Nationally, there are now 2.5 milli0n people suffering from Type 2 diabetes, 90% of which are overweight or obese.

A new Sugar Smart app has been launched to help parents to see how much sugar there is in everyday food and drink. The free app works by scanning the barcode of products and revealing the amount of total sugar it contains in cubes and grams.

Change4Life has created an eye-opening short film, which warns parents about the health harms of eating and drinking too much sugar, including becoming overweight and tooth decay. The film brings to life the excessive amount of sugar consumed by the average child per year; currently three times more than the new maximum recommended daily amount.

The campaign reveals the sugar content of everyday food and drink; a 43g chocolate bar contains six cubes of sugar, a 200ml juice drink contains over five cubes and there are nine sugar cubes in a can of cola, instantly taking children up to or over their recommended maximum for the day.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist for Public Health England, said: ‘Children are having too much sugar, three times the maximum recommended amount. This can lead to painful tooth decay, weight gain and obesity, which can also affect children’s wellbeing as they are more likely to be bullied, have low-self esteem and miss school.’

‘Children aged five shouldn’t have more than 19 grams of sugar per day- that’s five cubes, but it’s very easy to have more. That’s why we want parents to be “Sugar Smart”. Our easy to use app will help parents see exactly where the sugar in their children’s diet is coming from, so they can make informed choices about what to cut down on.’

Singer and TV presenter Jamelia is supporting the campaign and starring in a series of Sugar Smart films from January, she says: ‘One of the trickiest challenges as a mum is trying to avoid sugar sneaking into my children’s diets. Supporting this new Change4Life campaign has opened my eyes to how much sugar is in the everyday food and drink we eat and drink. It’s so important to take control of the amount of sugar our kids are eating and act now. I’d recommend all parents download the Sugar Smart app to uncover sugar that’s in their everyday food and drink to make healthier choices when food shopping.”

Five million Sugar Smart packs will be given away to primary school children and their families via schools, local authorities and retailers. There will be 25 Change4Life Sugar Smart roadshows, taking place across the country from January to March. Five major supermarkets have also pledged to support the campaign through educating and helping customers to make healthier food choices when shopping.

You can download the Change4Life Sugar Smart app to find out how much sugar is in the food and drink your family consumes every day and search ‘Change4Life’ for lots of free support, tips, ideas and recipes.