New Leaders in the Race to Reduce Sugar

Public Health England (PHE) has just published an impressive game plan that has the potential to put a serious dent in their overall sugar consumption, especially for kids in the UK. The USA and UK are both greatly concerned about the alarming rise of obesity and diabetes especially with children. But the PHE is way ahead of the game given their aim to reduce sugar intake found in foods by up to 200,000 metric tons or 20% by 2020.  

The PHE guidelines are based on more than 6 months of meetings with the food industry and public health NGOs.  They developed specific guidelines for the food industry so they can get busy reducing sugar in their food products.  The PHE believes that their program offers a win win for both the public and businesses.

So here is how they plan to do it …

The program is targeting 9 food categories:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Yogurts
  • Biscuits (think breakfast crackers)
  • Cakes
  • Morning pastries
  • Puddings
  • Ice creams, popsicles and sorbets
  • Confectionery (chocolate and sweet)
  • Sweet spreads like chocolate spreads, nut butters, dessert toppings, sauces and fruit spreads

*Note: Beverages were not included as one of the food categories targeted by the PHE because the U.K. already has plans to implement a tax on sweetened beverages in April 2018.  Also, all types of caloric sweeteners are included except naturally occurring milk sugars found in foods like yogurt and some plain whole dried fruit in breakfast cereals.  And sugar-free sweets and chewing gum were excluded.

Three approaches that the food industry can take to reduce sugar:

  1. Reformulating products to lower the levels of sugar in food products
  2. Reducing the number of calories and/or portion size in single-serve products
  3. Shifting consumer purchasing towards lower or no added sugar products

How they will measure impact and the results…

PHE will judge the success of the program by measuring the net amount of sugar removed from the 9 key food categories.  The principles of the program are to encourage the food industry to do more and act faster regarding sugar reduction in foods.  The ultimate goal is to improve health and to meet the Government’s challenge.  

Added sugar

Any sugar added in preparation of foods, either at the table, in the kitchen or in the processing plant. This may include sucrose, high fructose corn syrup and others.

SugarScience Glossary

Diabetes mellitus

Usually shortened to just diabetes. Sometimes called sugar diabetes. Look at Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes for more information

SugarScience Glossary


Sugars are chemicals made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen found which taste sweet and are found in food. They are an important part of what we eat and drink and of our bodies. On this site, sugar is used to mean simple sugars (monosaccharides) like fructose or glucose, and disaccharides like table sugar (sucrose). Sucrose is two simple sugars stuck together for example (see Table sugar). Sugars are a type of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are energy sources for our bodies Sugars enter the blood stream very quickly after being eaten.

SugarScience Glossary

SugarScience is the authoritative source for evidence-based, scientific information about sugar and its impact on health.

Mary C. Wiley, PsyD

Mary C. Wiley, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in the Bay Area for nearly 20 years. She works primarily with addiction and mood disorders utilizing evidence-based approaches (cognitive -behavioral approach and mindfulness) therapies.

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