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Oct 10, 2019 / Richard Hall

Reality checks for obesity

While on the topic of obesity, more UK research throws light on what might work better.

A study published in the British Medical Journal last month indicated that a 20% tax on sugary foods would be far more effective than a 20% tax on sugary drinks.

The finding was based on a comprehensive model using Government data. It showed:

• “Increasing the price of biscuits, cakes, chocolates and sweets by 20% would reduce annual average energy intake by around 8,900 calories, leading to an average weight loss of 1.3kg over one year.”

• “A similar price increase on sugary drinks would result in an average weight loss of just 203g over one year.”

Sugar sweetened beverages were assessed as contributing 2% of total energy and 11% of free sugar intake. Biscuits, cakes and confectionery add up to 12% of total energy and 26% of free sugar intake.

Unfortunately, voluntary UK Government schemes have yet to make much impact on confectionery. Breakfast cereals and yogurts are on track to reach the 20% sugar reduction target in 2020, but confectionery has achieved only 2% so far.

Ironically, the combined impact of all Government measures to date, including the soft drinks industry levy and the voluntary sugar reduction programme, have not prevented overall sugar consumption in England from rising.

According to a report from Public Health England: “Overall the total tonnes of sugar sold in foods included in the reformulation programme from the in-home sector has increased by 2.6% between 2015 and 2018 (excluding cakes and morning goods).”

Something else has got to give.

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