Dec 5th, 2022
4 mins

The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) have now published their final progress report on the sugar reduction programme 2015-2020, a year later than planned.

The programme was launched in 2016 by Public Health England (PHE) but transferred to the Office for health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) in 2021 when PHE was disbanded. Its aim was to achieve a voluntary 20% sugar reduction across key categories in a bid to reduce childhood obesity.

Progress is reported for retailers and manufacturer branded products purchased for consumption in the home and uses sales weighted averages for products purchased across Great Britain (GB).

However, the data reveals that industry achieved just a 3.5% reduction based on data for the year ending 6th September 2020, compared with a baseline year of 2015. It also shows a 7.1% increase in the tonnes of sugar sold from the product categories included in the programme between the baseline and year four. This included a 26.9% increase in the tonnes of sugar sold in chocolate confectionery and 24.5% for sweet spreads and sauces. The suggestion is that this could have been caused in part by the increased amount of sweet treats consumed during lockdown.

The programme seems to have been even less successful in the out-of-home sector, achieving just a 0.2% reduction in the simple average total sugar per 100g in products sold between its baseline of 2017 and 2020. Note: for those products, a baseline year of 2017 was set as robust data for 2015 wasn’t available.

In fact, only three categories, yoghurts and fromage frais, breakfast cereals and puddings saw reductions in sugar over the period, with an overall 8.1% increase in total volume sales from 2015 to 2020.

Unsurprisingly, as a result, health campaigners are now calling on Government not to rely on voluntary action and instead impose levies on the products in question as was the case for soft drinks. However, industry bodies have been quick to highlight the significant progress they have made and questioned whether the 20% reduction was ever realistic, with the reformulation of many products remaining a challenge.

You can read the full report here


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