Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

Reducing Sugar in Our Processed Foods and Beverages – Will It Make Enough Difference?

Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

Reducing Sugar in Our Processed Foods and Beverages – Will It Make Enough Difference?

Article excerpt

The imminent introduction of the sugar levy has been a hot topic of discussion in the first few months of 2018. Public Health England (PHE)’s Change4Life campaign has focused on the reduction of sugar in the diets of children and young people, particularly through the reduction of high-calorie snacks and sugary drinks. In a feature article, Charlotte Evans from the University of Leeds describes the potential for reductions in obesity prevalence overall and particularly in younger age groups as a result of the sugar levy.1 However, she highlights the lack of evidence that such measures on their own will solve the obesity crisis and emphasises the importance of a holistic approach, including improvements in the food environment such as reductions in marketing of unhealthy foods and smaller portion sizes.2 PHE is currently working with manufacturers and retailers on the reformulation of a range of foods including biscuits, yoghurts, cakes and confectionary and is considering the development of guidelines to address beverages outside the current legislation (including those fancy coffees we all consume).3 A recent briefing published by the Local Government Association, PHE and the Association of Directors of Public Health demonstrates the opportunities for Local Authorities to tackle overweight and obesity using a Whole Systems Approach and challenges Elected Members to champion measures which seek to improve the food and physical environments and promote healthier behaviours across the life course.4,5

School meals play an important role in the nutrition of children and young people, and Feldman et al.6 describe the challenges of increasing the provision of fresh, locally sourced (preferably organic) and minimally processed food in schools in the US and Europe – particularly where budgetary constraints limit facilities and labour and the time available within the school day to manage multiple meal sittings. In England, where a relatively small number of schools operate an ‘on site’ policy for children and young people from Year 7 and above, the challenges are even greater as the availability of unhealthy, calorie-dense fast food in close proximity to schools attracts more and more young people. …

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