What can the food and drink industry do to help achieve the 5% free sugars goal?

11 July, 2017

Leatherhead’s Jenny Arthur, Head of Nutrition & Product Development, has co-authored a research article published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Public Health – Perspectives in Public Health titled ‘What can the food and drink industry do to help achieve the 5% free sugars goal?’

Apple Juice with fresh fruits on wooden background

The article makes recommendations to assist in achieving free sugars reduction by contributing evidence-based research, having run an expert workshop in the summer of 2016. The panel agreed that the 5% target for energy from free sugars is unlikely to be achievable by the UK population in the near future, but a gradual reduction from the current level of intake is feasible. Progress would require collaborations between government, food industry, non-government organisations, health professionals, educators and consumers.

The article highlights how reformulation should start with the main contributors of free sugars in the diet, prioritising those products high in free sugars and relatively low in micronutrients. There is most potential for replacing free sugars in beverages using high-potency sweeteners and possibly via gradual reduction in sweetness levels. However, reformulation alone, with its inherent practical difficulties, will not achieve the desired reduction in free sugars. Food manufacturers and the out-of-home sector can help consumers by providing smaller portions. Labelling of free sugars would extend choice and encourage reformulation; however, government needs to assist industry by addressing current analytical and regulatory problems. There are also opportunities for multi-agency collaboration to develop tools/communications based on the Eatwell Guide, to help consumers understand the principles of a varied, healthy, balanced diet.

The panel concluded that multiple strategies would be required in order to achieve a reduction in free sugars intake to the 5% energy target and produced consensus statements with recommendations as to how this might be achieved.

The full article can be downloaded from the SAGE Journals website here.


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