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2 April 2014

Response to CMO annual report on health

Response to CMO annual report on health

When attempting to tackle an issue as complex as obesity in the UK, we believe we all have an important role to play. We read the Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer with great interest and agree that this is an issue that must be addressed.

Our research* for example shows that over half of UK adults (54%) don’t meet the basic physical activity guidelines recommended by the NHS. Coupled with this, consumers don’t keep track of their daily calorie intake.

The result is that many people are not managing to balance the fuel (calories) they consume, with the fuel (calories) they burn off. Increasingly sedentary lifestyles and an over consumption of calories is causing a rise in obesity. 

Singling out sugar as a lead cause of this, therefore, is misleading and confusing for consumers – particularly when Government Family Food statistics show that there has actually been a reduction of almost 12%** in total sugar consumption per capita in the UK over the past decade.

We are absolutely supportive though of reducing sugars as part of reformulation when it results in an overall reduction in calories. Taking or reducing sugars out of food can, in certain circumstances mean, however, that the calorie count goes up.

With regard to the CMO’s comments on sugar tax, we believe it’s important to note that there is no conclusive evidence that this would have the desired effect on consumer behaviour. Instead, we believe the public would benefit from a better overall understanding of what constitutes a healthy balanced diet.

As a responsible business, we are committed to providing accurate information based on the facts and science to help consumers make informed choices about the food and drink they consume.

Richard Pike 
Managing Director, British Sugar

Notes to editors:

*Food Intake Survey, conducted by One Poll on behalf of AB Sugar in December 2013 with a representative sample of 2,000 UK adults

**Annual statistics about food and drink purchases in the UK (DEFRA) https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/family-food-statistics

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