The new Sugar Bill, to be published tomorrow in Parliament, tackles the underlying causes of obesity inadequately addressed in the Government’s so-called Obesity Strategy
The Bill is supported by the Royal College of Physicians and Cancer Research has been presented by Labour MP Geraint Davies.
Said Geraint Davies MP
"The UK has the highest level of obesity in Western Europe with 1 in 4 adults obese and nearly 2 in 3 adults overweight, and four million with type two diabetes.
Obesity costs the NHS £16 billion a year through diabetes, heart disease and cancer and costs the economy £47 billion. That’s why we must confront hidden sugar in processed food and drinks as it is a major cause of millions of deaths costing billions of pounds.
"The World Health Organisation says sugar intake should not exceed 5% of energy - 9 teaspoons for men (a can of Coke) or 6 for women (a light yoghurt)- yet the average person in Britain consumes twice that amount and teenagers three times. Overconsumption of sugar is due to manufacturers secretly adding it to our processed food and accounts for our growing diabetes epidemic.
“The Sugar Bill therefore requires that added sugar is labelled in teaspoonfuls on processed foods so consumers are empowered to choose healthier options and manufacturers incentivised to compete to reduce added sugar instead of competing by adding sugar.
"Such labelling is allowed and encouraged to be introduced by national governments by EU legislation despite the Food manufacturers claiming otherwise. The Conservative Government is putting business interests ahead of public health and should instead act decisively to curb this unnecessary loss of life that is bleeding the NHS dry.
Supported by Cancer Research and the RCP the Sugar in Food and Drinks Bill (attached) will:
- require processed food and drink to have added sugar content labelled in teaspoons
- extend the restrictions on television advertising of high sugar foods until after the 9.00pm watershed
· require the Government to publish targets for the total amount of sugar consumed in the UK
The Bill follows research concluding that obesity has a greater burden on the UK economy than armed violence, war and terrorism, costing us £47bn each year (McKinsey). Type 2 diabetes is already costing NHS England £9bn and NHS Wales £0.5bn each year. Obesity rates in Britain have increased to the second highest in Europe (after Hungary) and two thirds of people are either overweight (42% men & 32% women) or obese. In Swansea, 21% of adults are obese.
Said Geraint Davies MP
“I’ll be meeting Jeremy Hunt to say that if he’s serious about having a sustainable health service he should tackle the root cause of growing obesity – unrestricted added sugar in processed food and drinks – and give consumers the power to make healthy choices. Instead he seems to be on the side of big business making money out of feeding the nation junk food secretly impregnated with dangerous levels of sugar."
Jamie Oliver, who supports the move to label sugar content in teaspoonfuls said “ I am massively passionate that British people, if given clear information, make good choices. Not all the time, but a lot."
The Bill, is supported by Cancer Research UK who report that 74% of the public back a ban on junk food advertising before 9pm.
Professor Robert Lustig whose work has explained this link said "The food industry argues that a calorie is a calorie, a sugar is a sugar, and if you're fat it's your fault. But the science says that the excess sugar placed in our food is toxic and addictive. How can we exercise personal responsibility when the information is kept from us? Mr. Davies has introduced a rational proposal to limit this practice, to reduce the consumption of unnecessary sugar, and to educate the populace as to what they are consuming so that they can make informed choices"