British Supermarket Chain Tesco Bans Sugary Drinks to Fight Childhood Obesity
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Sugary drinks will be replaced with healthier beverage options
The change is scheduled to be in place across Tesco locations by September, when school starts.
Tesco, the British grocery giant, has announced plans to stop the sale of sugary drinks aimed at children, including Capri Sun and Ribena. These items will be replaced by beverages that do not contain any added sugar.
“This is part of our 10-point plan against obesity and we have decided that from September we will only sell no-added-sugar drinks in the kids' juice category,” beverage manager David Beardmore told The Grocer magazine. “Most of the suppliers are supportive of it and understand what we are doing.”
One recent study found that one in four British children under the age of 5 is considered overweight or obese. In Ireland, nearly a third of children qualify.
Tesco’s decision reflects a growing public awareness that children’s health is directly affected by the way that food is marketed and made available to them.
“We want to help our customers make healthier choices and that’s why we have pledged to continue to cut sugar from the food and drink on our shelves,” a Tesco representative told The Independent.
UK retailers say government must be tougher on obesity
British retailers have called for the government to take tougher action on tackling obesity and consider mandatory measures to ensure more companies make their products healthier.
Public health bosses have urged food manufacturers to make chips, pizzas, crisps and burgers healthier, and ministers are expected to issue “strong guidance” on how to reformulate products popular with children.
However, the British Retail Consortium, which represents more than 90 retailers including major chains Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer, said the government would need to move beyond voluntary agreements if it wanted to make a real difference.
“We believe voluntary approaches only take us so far,” said Andrea Martinez-Inchausti, deputy director of food and sustainability at the BRC.
“If you really want to make a difference then there is a need for stronger measures. Taxes might be one of way of doing it but there are alternatives to taxes such as mandatory targets.”
A new emphasis on sources of calories from a wide range of ingredients comes as the government prepares to introduce a tax on sugary soft drinks next year prompted by growing concern that children’s waistlines are expanding.
More than 40,000 deaths a year – one in 10 – are linked to people being dangerously overweight, health experts say.
Public Health England has said it will start by investigating how many calories foods popular with children contain and issue what ministers say will be “strong guidance” on reformulating them.
The government believes that setting mandatory targets through legislation may result in less ambitious targets that can take longer to implement.
Martinez-Inchausti said the industry had already taken major steps to make food healthier by, for example, introducing baked crisps and popcorn as an alternative to traditional crisps, and moves to reduce sugar and salt in many products. As much as 200,000 tons of sugar is expected to be taken out of snacks and meals annually by 2020 as part of a deal with the confectionery industry.
Nestlé, Greggs, Starbucks, Kellogg’s and other firms have all pledged to cut sugar in their products, as has Suntory, the maker of Lucozade and Ribena, and supermarkets such as Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and M&S.
But Martinez-Inchausti said voluntary activity tended to rely on the same 80 or so responsible companies and the government’s priority should be to engage a broader range of businesses. She pointed to restaurant and catering businesses as well as smaller companies as examples of those who could take more action.
The Children’s Food Campaign also said the government needed to take tougher action as it had so far “provided thin gruel for parents and health professionals keen to see significant progress on tackling childhood obesity”.
It said action by PHE and the NHS to reduce sugar consumption had not been matched by other government departments. It singled out the Department for Education, which it said had not met a pledge to encourage free schools and academies to meet school food standards and had cut promised funding for the healthy pupils capital fund which was supposed to support PE, healthy eating and after-school activities.
A Department for Education spokesperson said the government’s approach to tackling childhood obesity was comprehensive involving schools, the NHS, local authorities and business to promote healthy eating, physical activity and behaviour change.
The department said “every penny” of the estimated £775m raised by 2020 through the Soft Drink Industry Levy, known as the sugar tax, would be spent on improving child health including doubling the PE and Sports Premium for schools to £320m a year. The DfE is also investing £100m in capital funding in the next financial year to improve sports facilities and activities in schools.
The Food & Drink Federation, which represents British food manufacturers and processors, said that the industry had a “proud track record of reformulation to remove salt, fat and sugar from food and drinks”.
“This work will continue as we rise to the challenge of PHE’s sugar reduction targets and engage with this new focus on calories,” a spokesperson said.
“We are pleased that the government has confirmed the broadening of its focus beyond just sugar – and towards calories – as it seeks to tackle obesity. FDF has long advocated this ‘whole diet’ approach. Singling out the role of individual ingredients and food groups does not help consumers to make good choices about their diet, lifestyle or general health.”
Food and drink promos ‘undermining’ childhood obesity efforts, say MPsThe BRC said that evidence showed more retailers were moving towards low prices and that multi-buys were diminishing because that's what consumers wanted. 2020.©Kaisorn
The group of MPs have urged the Government to intervene with robust action to reduce the number of cut-price and multi-buy offers that supermarkets introduce to predominantly unhealthy food.
“Measures should be taken to reduce and rebalance the number and type of promotions in all retail outlets,” the report stated.
“In our view this should not be limited to products which are high in sugar, but also those high in salt and fat.
“Voluntary controls are unlikely to work in this area and the Government should introduce mandatory controls.
Evidence from the food industry has pointed to the need for ‘a level playing field,’ after industry representatives detailed plans set out by the Government risk being undermined unless regulation was put in place.
The fear was retailers who acted responsibly on discounting and promotions were being put at a competitive disadvantage to those who do not.
Multibuy offers are popular with such foods as canned soft drinks and packets of crisps. ©mattjeacock
Driven by customer feedback and competition, retailers such as Aldi and Lidl, have moved away from ‘multibuy’ deals, which encourage people to increase consumption, and towards competing on a single price.
In February last year, similar steps were taken by Tesco and Sainsbury’s, which began to phase out such deals.
Evidence of an improvement in retailers’ price promoting practices were provided by Public Health England, which said that the proportion of food and drink sold on promotion had dropped from 40% to 37%.
Andrea Martinez-Inchausti from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) added that figures from the end of 2016 placed it closer to 27%.
‘Customers tell us very, very clearly: we do not want you to dictate to us what we can and what we cannot eat we don’t want choice editing,’ he says.
Davies insists it’s a fine balance between presenting customers with unambiguous options and making choices for them ‘without compromising on taste’.
But supermarkets are undoubtedly at risk of greater interference from politicians facing ever growing calls from the health lobby. All of this suggests there may be more to Tesco’s health drive than Davies’s blood sugar levels.
With even a Conservative Government wading in with a sugar levy on fizzy drinks which takes effect next year, many in the food industry fear we are at the beginning of a new wave of regulation driven by health concerns. Chancellor Philip Hammond surprised many campaigners and frustrated manufacturers when he threw his weight behind the levy in March.
So while Davies may be concerned about his own health, he is also keen to keep on the right side of public and political opinion.
‘The food industry has a responsibility to continue to challenge itself to make sure that food is healthier for customers. People who are passionate about this are going to be ahead of regulation,’ he says.
Tesco’s reputation and performance have recovered well since the accounting scandal that rocked the firm in 2014. Last month, full year results showed sales and profits rising. Last week, key rival Sainsbury reported falls in both sales and profits at its supermarkets in 2016.
Beanz counters: The healthier packs are cheaper
But crucially, first quarter figures from Tesco due next month will give an insight into how it is performing so far this year, as the weaker pound has eroded shoppers’ buying power. Tesco has faced tough negotiations with suppliers trying to raise their prices – notoriously in the so-called Marmitegate row. But Davies claims Tesco has largely succeeded in keeping a lid on inflation for its customers.
‘We’re continually working with our suppliers to mitigate any cost increases and keep prices as low as possible for our customers. Despite cost pressures, a typical basket of foods at Tesco is 6 per cent cheaper than it was two years ago.’
But what about the notorious ‘shrinkflation’ where instead of raising prices products get smaller, famously so with Toblerone and other chocolate products?
What other suppliers do is beyond Tesco’s control but Davies says there will be no such tactics used for Tesco’s own products.
‘We do change pack sizes from time to time to meet the changing needs of customers, but we have no plans to change the pack sizes of our own-label products for the reason of cost price inflation,’ he declares.
Ahead of those crucial first quarter figures next month, Davies cannot give any clues to the group’s current financial health. Not so his own physical health. Davies said his personal check-up led to ‘lots and lots of sensible, subtle changes’ – eating different foods and doing more exercise.
He says: ‘I gained a deeper understanding of where hidden sugars lie. I’ve been able to make a big difference to my own blood sugar levels which is why I’m so focused on sugars that lurk where customers don’t appreciate.
‘I didn’t appreciate that, historically, there were sugars in cooking and pasta sauces. We know 80 per cent of diabetes flows from obesity. Nine per cent of kids are obese. Two thirds of adults are overweight and there is a growing diabetes crisis. Customers are clear this is something they want help with.’
Tesco has launched its ‘Little Helps to Healthier Living’ healthy eating campaign to encourage shoppers to switch.
Customers will be offered free diabetes checks at stores with pharmacies and fresh fruit placed besides checkouts as well as price cuts on hundreds of fresh, low-fat food from fish to corn on the cob. Crucially, price cuts are aimed at persuading shoppers to switch to healthier alternatives which will be, for next few weeks at least, cheapper.
'Shrinkflation': Instead of raising prices products get smaller, famously so with Toblerone, but Davies said there will be no such tactics used for Tesco's own products
A pack of three 200g tins of Heinz baked beans with no added sugar will cost 84p compared with the standard equivalent at £1. Meanwhile, a 1.25-litre bottle of Diet Coke will cost 90 pence compared with £1 for a standard bottle.
Tesco refuses to say how much it is spending on the healthy food campaign. But if, as Davies clearly hopes, the initiative draws in health-conscious shoppers the group will be aiming to recoup whatever it has spent through higher sales.
When it comes to the biggest political and economic issue of the day – Brexit and the General Election – Davies is less forthcoming, however.
‘We’ll work with whatever Government is elected and try to make sure that as part of any Brexit negotiations we can continue to serve shoppers better. We would welcome anything that enables us to do that,’ he says.
With evasive skills like that, it is perhaps not surprising that Davies has flown well below the radar since taking the job at Tesco.
He rents a home near Tesco’s head office in Welwyn Garden City and spends most of the week ‘down there’. He has a home office in Manchester, just a few miles from his birthplace in Wythenshawe.
‘I’m not very adventurous,’ he laughs. ‘I ventured as far as Hull for university but I’m back here and my mates are still the same people as when I was 12 years old – terribly sad really,’ he confesses.
But his milestones in business are another matter. In 2004, he was appointed chief executive at Pets At Home. He tripled the chain in size before it was sold for almost £1billion – netting Davies a fortune estimated to be £20million for his shares. But that didn’t dent his work ethic.
In 2012, he became the boss of Halfords and in 2015 was drafted in by Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis to run the group’s UK division, arriving a year after the notorious accounting scandal.
The group still has a way to go to recover its former glory. For Davies and Tesco the bottom line will have to be that promoting healthy eating also promotes some healthier profits.
'How will we work out the calories?'
Restaurants, cafes and takeaways are also being targeted under the proposed measures, which will require them to provide clear calorie labelling.
Michael Birt, who runs an independent pub in rural Leicestershire, said the new mandatory calorie information on menus "will lead to a lot more of our type of business failing, lead to a lot more mass-produced food on menus and less choice for the consumer".
He said: "How are we supposed to work out what calories are in a dish to put in a menu, or are we expected to pay an outside nutritionist to work this out for us?"
"Nowadays eating out is becoming a luxury and it is more of a struggle for businesses like mine to survive without additional regulation set by the government."
However, Heath Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC on Sunday that there could be possible exemptions for smaller businesses. But all big restaurant chains would have to provide calorie labelling.
There was a mixed reaction on Twitter, with some diners welcoming the requirement for nutritional information.
But one said it is "going to take the joy away from eating out" while another said: "It will not be pretty".
Someone else added: "I can't tell you how much I utterly disagree with putting calorie information on restaurant menus.
"As someone who suffers from an eating disorder that is one of the worst things you could do."
There are concerns that a huge number of popular yoghurt products will have to undergo a dramatic recipe change or disappear from shelves.
PHE has no legal powers to require the companies to change, however it could shame those that fail to fall into line.
A number of children's yoghurts are too sweet based on the PHE targets.
These include Petits Filous Raspberry & Strawberry Fromage Frais at 11.9 per cent sugar and Munch Bunch Fromage Frais with Strawberry Puree and Vanilla Flavour at 13.4 per cent.
HOW MUCH SUGAR IS TOO MUCH SUGAR?
The average fizzy drink can contains more sugar than someone’s entire recommended daily allowance, researchers have discovered.
Experts from Queen Mary University, London, found the average carbonated sugar-sweetened soft drink sold in the UK contains 30.1g of sugar per 330ml can – more than seven-and-a-half teaspoons.
But the Department of Health advises that: over-11s consume no more than 30g of sugar a day children aged between seven and ten no more than 24g and four-to-six-year-olds no more than 19g.
Muller Corner Trackstars yoghurt is both too big at 135g and too sweet at 13.8 per cent sugar. And Nestle Smarties split pot yoghurt is 18.9 per cent sugar.
Research by The Grocer magazine has identified a list of other well-known products that do not meet the PHE standards.
For example, Skyr Pear Apple & Cinnamon, is too big for a single serving at 150g.
The same applies to Müller Corner Toffee Hoops at 135g Danone Danio Passion Fruit at 150g Fage Total Greek Yoghurt at 170g The Collective Russian Fudge at 150g Tesco Finest Scottish Raspberry at 150g.
The Oreo Vanilla Yoghurt is too sweet at 17.2 per cent sugar – 17.2g per 100g.
The same is true of Müller Corner Toffee Hoops at 18.4 per cent sugar Danone Danio Passion Fruit at 11.7 per cent The Collective Russian Fudge at 14.6 per cent and Tesco Finest Scottish Raspberry at 12.7 per cent.
The Grocer said: 'PHE wants all single-serve yoghurt pots to be capped at 125g and separately is calling for average sugar levels to be cut to 8.8 per cent by 2020.
The body wants to slash the average amount of sugar in yoghurt from 11.05 per cent to 8.8 per cent by 2020. Disney Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Pouches currently contain 10.5 per cent
Petits Filous Raspberry & Strawberry Fromage Frais contain 11.9 per cent sugar
|Yoghurt in the dock||Pack||Sugar (%)||Sugar (per pot)||Teaspoons|
|Nestle Smarties split pot||120g||18.9||22.68g||5.7|
|Oreo Vanilla Yoghurt||120g||17.2||20.64g||5.16|
|Muller Corner Trackstars yoghurt||135g||13.8||18.63g||4.66|
|Munch Bunch Fromage Frais with Strawberry Puree and Vanilla Flavour||85g||13.4||11.39g||2.85|
|Strawberry and Raspberry Flavour Yogurt Frubes||70g||13.2||9.24g||2.31|
|Thomas and Friends Strawberry Fromage Frais with Added Vitamin D||45g||12.0||5.4g||1.35|
|Petits Filous Raspberry & Strawberry Fromage Frais||85g||11.9||10.12g||2.53|
|Disney Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Pouches||70g||10.5||7.35g||1.84|
|Rachel's My First Yoghurt||90g||9.6||8.64g||2.16|
'As these bestselling examples show, one way or another yoghurt manufacturers are currently falling short, demonstrating the scale of the changes required if the industry adheres to the proposals.
'The controversial plans could result in hundreds of products being slimmed down or removed from shelves if companies agree.'
Research by The Grocer found 43 per cent of all single-serve yoghurts currently fall foul of the PHE proposals.
Some 382 out of 892 were over 125g. This included 87 per cent of Müller Rice products, 75 per cent of Müller Corner pots, 42 per cent of all Rachel's products and 29 per cent of Yeo Valley yoghurts.
Some 60 per cent of yoghurts in supermarkets – 470 out of 670 – had too much sugar.
There are concerns that products, such as Thomas and Friends Strawberry Fromage Frais, which contains 12 per cent sugar, will have to undergo a dramatic recipe change
PHE plans to publish a barometer of the top 20 big yoghurt sellers and carry out regular monitoring of single-serve pot sizes.
Families will be able to use this to see which companies and products meet its health standards, so putting commercial pressure on firms to fall into line.
One dairy industry insider told the magazine: 'It's appalling the way PHE has failed to recognise the health benefits of this sector.
'The loser in all this is going to be the consumer because you will see big range reductions.'
PHE has been holding a series of meetings with food industry bosses to set out sugar reduction targets.
One source told PHE bosses that there would be a consumer backlash if yoghurt pots are cut in size.
Strawberry and Raspberry Flavour Yogurt Frubes currently contain 9.24g sugar - 13.2 per cent of their total content
'If the size of pots comes down without price reductions across the board, then consumers will accuse them (the industry) of exploitation,' he said.
The war on yoghurt sizes could be the first of many to come, with portion control emerging as a key weapon set to feature in discussions on biscuits, cakes, chocolates and sweets.
PHE said it has not set any firm targets, but has made a number of proposals to start a conversation with manufacturers on how to reduce sugar levels in the nine groups of food that contribute most to sugar consumption in children.
It said there are three ways to deal with the issue, taking sugar out, reducing portion sizes and encouraging consumer to switch to low sugar alternatives.
A spokesman said: 'Portion control is a relatively simple way of reducing calorie intake.'
Making healthy eating easier: Tesco and Jamie Oliver promote healthy dietsTesco and Jamie Oliver promote healthy eating campaign
Announcing the tie-up, Tesco said it wants to help “make it easier” for people in the UK to “eat well and live healthier lives”.
This month, Oliver will front Tesco’s ‘helpful little swaps’ in store, where healthier alternatives offer lower levels of salt, sugar or fat. Importantly, Tesco said it is making these healthier alternatives cheaper too: a basket of ‘helpful little swaps’ will cost 12% less than a regular shopping basket, the company claimed.
The move follows a survey of more than 2,000 people, which found seven out of ten respondents think supermarkets should ‘do more’ to help people make healthier choices. Almost 70% said they would like more practical advice and inspiration on how to eat better.
Oliver said the results were further evidence that “Britain wants to know how to enjoy more of the good stuff, in easy fun and delicious ways”.
“This makes this partnership one of the most exciting opportunities to actually get Britain eating and celebrating more of their five fruit and veg a day.”
‘Raising the bar’
Oliver praised Tesco for the initiative – which follows on from a number of other programmes at the retailer designed to boost healthy choices or tackle its environmental impact.
“I'm incredibly excited to be collaborating with Britain's biggest and most progressive supermarket. Over the past few years, under new leadership, Tesco has consistently raised the bar when it comes to so many important initiatives: from food waste, to leading on industry reformulation and helping kids eat more fruit with its brilliant Free Fruit for Kids in-store programme,” Oliver suggested.
CAP bans high-fat, salt and sugar food ads targeting children
The restriction, which will affect non-broadcast media including print, cinema, online and social, will come into effect from the 1 July next year.
CAP has summarised its key changes:
- Ads that directly or indirectly promote a high-fat, -salt or -sugar product cannot appear in children’s media.
- Ads for high-fat, -salt or -sugar products cannot appear in other media where children make up over 25% of the audience.
- Ads for high-fat, -salt or -sugar products will not be allowed to use promotions, licensed characters and celebrities popular with children advertisers may now use those techniques to better promote healthier options.
- The Department of Health nutrient profiling model will be used to classify which products are high in fat, salt or sugar.
CAP’s review and the new rules are in response to consumer concerns about childhood obesity and the public health challenges it poses.
Research from Ofcom shows that young people aged 5-15 are spending around 15 hours each week online – overtaking the time spent watching a TV set for the first time.
“Childhood obesity is a serious and complex issue and one that we’re determined to play our part in tackling,” said James Best, chairman of CAP.
“These restrictions will significantly reduce the number of ads for high-fat, -salt or -sugar products seen by children. Our tough new rules are a clear demonstration that the ad industry is willing and ready to act on its responsibilities and puts the protection of children at the heart of its work.”
Fruit 'too expensive'
Clare Shaw said the proposed rules were good measures" but suggested the government should use the money generated by the sugar tax to subsidise fruit.
"[Fruit] is always expensive to buy and is much better for the children," she said.
"Why is it cheaper to buy a multipack of Mars bars than it is to buy a punnet of grapes or strawberries?"
Food campaigner Jack Monroe, who is known for her blog about cooking for a family on a shoestring, tweeted: "This may be kind of radical but why don't they just make healthy food cheaper?"
Plain stupid: kids' yoghurts unfairly treated over sugar
Supermarket yoghurts contain more sugar than Coke’, screamed the nationals last week as they bemoaned the findings of a new study revealing the “shocking” levels of the white stuff in pots aimed at children. Researchers at Leeds and Surrey University analysed nutritional data on 101 kids’ yoghurts on sale in UK supermarkets in November 2016 and found just two would be classed as ‘low sugar’, with the “vast majority” containing sugar levels “well above” the 5 g total sugars/100 g threshold required to carry a green ‘traffic light’ nutritional label.
And things could be about to get much worse for manufacturers. Officials at PHE are considering a revised nutrient profiling model that would see most fruit-flavoured kids’ yoghurts branded junk food. The category is set to be the worst affected by the proposed changes to the model, which is used to determine whether foods are HFSS (high in fat, salt and sugar) and banned from advertising to children.
But are kids’ yoghurts being unfairly demonised?
According to the Leeds and Surrey University study, which prompted last week’s headlines, just 2% of yoghurts on sale in the UK in November 2016 would be classed as ‘low sugar’, with many containing levels “well above” the 5g total sugars/100g threshold required to carry a green ‘traffic light’ nutritional label. And things haven’t changed much since then. Research commissioned by The Collective found just two yoghurts currently on sale in the UK come under the 5g total sugars per 100g threshold.
The Collective’s own range of Suckies had an average total sugar content of 8.1g per 100g, while rival Petit Filous’ range of Fromage Frais had 9.9g per 100g and Frubes had 11.6g per 100g on average.
As The Collective’s CEO and co-founder Amelia Harvey points out, “there is a big spectrum in terms of what’s out there in the market. Some children’s yoghurts are just sweetened by fruit, while others have lots of added sugar.”
But hardly any would score a ‘green light’ for sugar under current traffic light labelling rules because “the lactose in a yoghurt means it will start at a base rate of 5g-6g per 100g. Fruit or juice concentrate will add to that,” Harvey says.
The importance of being earnest: The Dairymen yoghurt report 2018
Paediatric dietician Judy More thinks yoghurts are being unfairly penalised by the Europe-wide labelling laws, which require total sugars including lactose-to be used on labels. “Lactose is a natural sugar in milk and doesn’t need to be restricted in the same way free sugars do,” she says. “It would be better if they required you to say what the content of free sugars was.”
Free sugars exclude lactose but include sugar honey, syrups and processed fruit such as fruit puree where all the cells are broken down and fruit sugar exudes into the puree (as well as sugar cane/beet sugar). They are the main focus of the government’s fight against obesity, with the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommending they make up no more than 5% of daily calorie intake.
PHE is focusing on free sugars for its proposed new nutrient profiling model, which is used to determine whether products can be advertised during children’s television programming and non-broadcast media, meaning the lactose content of yoghurts won’t be counted. But PHE has also drastically reduced the sugar threshold to bring the new model in line with the SACN recommendation. As such, while products previously had to contain less than 21g total sugar per 100g to pass the NPM, they would have to contain less than 5g free sugars per 100g under the proposed changes.
This tough new threshold means just 20 (30%) of the 65 yoghurts and fromage frais in the dataset analysed by PHE would pass the new NPM. And General Mills, which owns the Petit Filous brands, warns the impact on yoghurts aimed at kids’ will be much bigger. “Our estimation indicates that it may be only approximately 13% of yogurts that would pass if natural/no added sugar yogurts were excluded,” it said in its response to the PHE consultation.
Even Petits Filous Fromage Frais, which was featured in PHE’s Change4Life smart snacking campaign as a healthy alternative, would fail under the new NPM. With 9.9g of total sugar per 100g the brand has exceeded the original industry targets for reformulation by 2020, despite cutting sugar by 17%, and would have to cut free sugars by another 40% to pass the proposed new model.
This seeming mismatch with the government’s existing healthy eating advice threatens to confuse parents and derail industry progress on reformulation, brands warn. And with the proposed sugar threshold almost impossible for most fruit-flavoured yoghurts to reach, even brands that have invested heavily in reducing sugar over recent years face the same advertising restrictions as those that haven’t.
Of course, the threat of not being able to advertise directly to children is not one all brands will fear, as marketing is often aimed at parents. However, the government is also considering a 9pm watershed for HFSS TV ads under its Childhood Obesity Chapter 2 and a ban on supermarket promotions of HFSS foods.
This could have unintended negative consequences for children’s health, some experts fear. In its response to the PHE consultation, the British Dietetic Association raised concerns brands might be tempted to pump their products full of sweeteners to pass the revised test, and warned there could also be “unintended consequences” to branding “nutritionally superior” yoghurts as ‘junk food’ alongside cakes and biscuits in the public eye.
Yeo Valley and Rachel’s hit as Waitrose resets yoghurts aisle
More agrees, pointing out yoghurts, milk and cheese are important sources of calcium, iodine and vitamin A, which are vital for the development of healthy bones, brains and immune systems. “There aren’t other foods that provide those nutrients in as good a quantity.”
While some yoghurt’s do contain levels of free sugars that are “too high”, it’s not helpful for health chiefs to make parents feel guilty about giving their children nutrient-rich foods, she insists. “The issue as I see it is that PHE is tasked with fighting obesity, not with making sure we are all eating a nutritious diet,” More adds.
PHE says it is currently reviewing submissions to the NPM consultation and “will respond in due course”. Industry sources suggest a backlash against the proposals by industry, advertising bodies and health experts could force it to reassess its targets. But some believe a much wider reassessment of the government’s approach to health policy is needed to prevent nutritious foods like yoghurts from being penalised. Adds More: “In general the food messages we get from the government and PHE are negative, other than the advice to eat five-a-day. I think it would be better to have a positive message around eating three servings of yoghurt, cheese or milk a day rather than trying to damn them in the way junk food is damned.”