by Marion Nestle
Jan 10 2014

Action on Sugar to the food industry: reduce sugar now!

A group of public health experts based mainly in Britain have announced a new anti-sugar campaign.

Called Action on Sugar, it is modeled on Great Britain’s campaign to get the food industry to gradually reduce salt in processed foods—voluntarily.  That campaign is considered to have led to a reduction of 25% to 40%.

Action on Sugar’s objective: Reduce sugar in packaged foods by 20% to 30% over the next 3 to 5 years.

Action on Sugar is a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health. It is successfully working to reach a consensus with the food industry and Government over the harmful effects of a high sugar diet, and bring about a reduction in the amount of sugar in processed foods. Action on Sugar is supported by 18 expert advisors.

As one of the experts put it, “Everywhere, sugary drinks and junk foods are now pressed on unsuspecting parents and children by a cynical industry focused on profit not health”—just like the tobacco industry behaves.

You have to love the British press:

New Picture

Enjoy the weekend!


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  • Mark.

    I wonder whether food and drink are as over-sweetened in the UK as in the USA. Soft drinks from American companies might be. I keep hearing anecdotal stories from Europeans spending time in the US about how many foods taste intolerably sweet, some European soft drinks I’ve had aren’t as sweet as American ones, and my very German mom always cuts the amount of sugar in any American recipe in half, a rule of thumb I strongly suggest.

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  • Demonizing certain food ingredients is a good start, but the second part of the message should always be “and replace them with whole fruits, vegetables, and starches”. Otherwise, the current demonized sugar (Lustig, Taubes) might be replaced with the faddish “healthy saturated fat” calories.

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  • Jackie

    Hallelujah, “a new anti-sugar campaign”!

    Any anti-(fill in the blank) campaign is music to our ears, no? Can never have too much authoritarian dogma or too little science, eh?

    Too bad your reflexive “against everything” agenda never seems to feature anything we can be “for” — that makes you all sound so mechanical to us sane sensible folks. Credit where credit is due — you do crank out a wonderfully inciting series of urban myths with so little to work with. Credibility is so overrated, isn’t it?

  • Devour Catering

    Yay for spreading the word about healthy eating!


  • Ben

    Even the bread and ricotta cheese taste sweet in the US. Now the popular wine is the sweet wine. It’s bad, and people in general don’t realize how much sugar they are eating which is definitively contributing to the obesity crisis in the US.
    And the food industry just doesn’t seem to care.

  • L Bland

    Unfortunately, the easy answer to poor sales is to add more sugar. This can be seen when a company’s wheat bread has 2 to 3 times the sugar as it’s white bread or in the milk industry’s push to add sugar to It’s regular milk.

  • MaureenABA

    As this campaign in Britain targets sugar and uses sensationalist rhetoric to do so, it’s important to remember that no single ingredient is uniquely to blame for complex health conditions, such as obesity. In fact, as a New York Times article ( aptly put it: “simply focusing on sugar will do little to quell the rising epidemic of obesity. This is a multifaceted problem with deep historical roots, and we are doing too little about many of its causes.” We completely agree with this assessment, which is grounded in scientific evidence linking obesity to many diverse risk factors, including genetics, inactivity, stress, medicines, overall diet and more.

    Moreover, CDC data shows that food, not beverages, is the leading source of added sugars in the average American diet. That said, the top-line takeaway here is that sugars should, just like any calories we consume, be enjoyed in moderation. Clear product labeling and education-based initiatives help consumers make informed choices so that they may strike a healthy balance.

  • thomas1020

    Why do you think this is the case?