The Childhood Obesity Plan published today does, among other measures suggest encouraging the uptake of lower sugar alternatives. While according to health campaigners it does not go far enough in its other measures, this positive approach is one that sits well with Sugarwise’s kitemark
Rend Platings a mother of one gave evidence last year to the UK Health Select Committee along with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in which she and Jamie united on the issue of better labelling, and Rend proposed a kitemark scheme to highlight options low in free sugars.
Tom Chess, Chief Scientist of Sugarwise UK and Cambridge University Biochemist says: “While having measures in place to encourage reduction of added sugars in food and drink should be commended, it is technically very challenging to differentiate between the amount of sugar that has been added to food and the amount that is naturally occurring.”
Tom suggests we should not be relying on manufacturers to certify their own claims, “As far as I am aware the Sugarwise test is the only means of independently assessing manufacturer claims on added sugar – the only such method in the world.”
Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge
“It is certainly the case that all other ways of doing this would rely on manufacturers providing their composition information. The Sugarwise test is not only able to provide the figure for free sugars independently, but can quickly process large numbers of products, at a much faster rate than manufacturers could themselves” Tom adds.
Shad Hoshyar, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Sugarwise says: “There needs to be an independent body to verify sugar claims. While the obesity strategy is likely to propose reductions, who will measure this? ensuring that manufacturers with genuinely lower sugar products are fairly treated?”
Shad also adds that the obesity strategy should provide more incentives for lower sugar products such as reduced VAT. “As it stands there is no VAT on high sugar chocolate chip cookies or cakes, and yet a 20% VAT is applied to ice cream that not only contains no added sugar, but has as much protein as a chicken breast.”
Sugarwise Certified Healthy Protein Ice Cream that could be given a lower VAT rate
“There are not enough products low in free sugars available on the supermarket shelves or in restaurants, cafes and other places people consume food. There are rarely low sugar cakes, biscuits, and other items where traditionally sugar is added. If we want our children’s diets to shift to low sugar products, there needs to be greater availability and visibility of these products. Low free sugar products do exist, and since launching the kitemark in March this year Sugarwise has certified over 250 of them” Shad says
Tom adds “Sugarwise is already helping the public take control by allowing them to easily identify foods low in the sugars that are causing the current obesity epidemic.”
The public can take control themselves through the use of a new app that helps them manage their free sugar intake for the first time. The AXA PPP award winning app was developed in partnership with Food Maestro and the NHS Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, along with all the major retailers in the UK who are keen to provide and promote lower sugar alternatives.
Retailers help consumers identify Sugarwise options through FoodMaestro app
Sugarwise supports the government in their pursuit to tackle the national problem of childhood obesity. The publishing of the childhood obesity strategy is a great step. Next what is needed is promoting the availability and visibility of low sugar or no added sugar products.
Rend Platings, Founder of Sugarwise: “As the mother of a two year old daughter, who is expected to live a shorter life than me, I’m keen for measures to be put in place that will make it easier for mums like me to choose lower sugar options for their children.”
Tom Chess, Chief Scientist Sugarwise UK & Cambridge University Biochemist: “People often don’t realise just how big an effect added sugar has in causing weight gain and obesity. If we can help people identify food and drink that is better for them, with low free sugars, it would certainly be a step in the right direction.”
Shad Hoshyar, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Sugarwise: “Sugarwise looks forward to engaging with the government’s consultation and we are in the process of cooperating with our stakeholders to identify the best possible way forward.”