Read how Sugarwise presents an opportunity for manufacturers developing more options for consumers, and what the sugar tax will mean for your food choices.
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Cambridge mum celebrates new sugar tax with Jamie Oliver
A Cambridge mum and Jamie Oliver have welcomed a sugar tax that could hit a range of popular fizzy drinks. Rend Platings, who last year presented the case for healthy food alongside the celebrity chef in front of the Health Select Committee, said she was “delighted” at the new budget announcement. “I think it sends a strong signal from government. But I also think it represents a big opportunity now for those companies that are either producing or developing, or thinking about producing or developing, lower sugar options.” Mrs Platings, from Coldhams Lane, is the founder of Sugarwise.org – a certification scheme that awards food and drink products low in free sugar content with a special mark. But she also said the focus needs to be on clearer labelling and opening up “sugarwise” options in categories now dominated by sugary foods – ice creams, cakes, biscuits, savoury sauces, and eating out as well as other types of drinks, such as fruit juice. “There are inevitably going to be winners and losers, and the tax will hit some companies harder than others. What isn’t fair is the distinction between fruit juice and soft drinks. Some fruit juices have the same amount of free sugars as a can of coke – if not more.”
The Sugarwise Mark is awarded to products that have less than 5 per cent of their calories coming from free sugars. Health chiefs at the Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee, along with the World Health Organisation, last year said these types of sugars should make up just 5 per cent of a person’s daily calorie intake. Free sugars, also known as added sugars, are those lacking nutrients and fibre that can be broken down by the body quickly. Sugarwise.org, a social enterprise behind the scheme that is already backed by Tesco, recently added Cambridge University to its list of supporters. One of its scientists, Dr Tom Simmons, provides analyses of various products to ensure they fall in line with guidelines. Dr Tom Simmons said: “Free sugars are accompanied by less fibre and other nutrients that can be found in the whole food. Therefore, they are less likely to suppress appetite and consequently people who consume a diet high in free sugars are more likely to consume too many calories and gain weight.
Dr Tom Simmons said: “Free sugars are accompanied by less fibre and other nutrients that can be found in the whole food. Therefore, they are less likely to suppress appetite and consequently people who consume a diet high in free sugars are more likely to consume too many calories and gain weight. “Nutrients and fibre are inherent in fruit, and while there is less water, this includes dried fruit. These foods will suppress appetite and are associated with less weight gain. “The World Health Organisation’s recommendation to lower free sugars intake to 5 per cent or less of total calories is to reduce the incidence of non communicable diseases. There is a strong correlation of free sugars intake with dental diseases such as tooth decay and also heart disease and diabetes. “We still have to be aware of salt, fat and total sugars but free sugars are the big food issue of our time. They are arguably the most important issue where there is the largest potential to positively impact health by changing the free sugars profiles of our foods, especially if these changes can be made in the manufacturing process. “Not only is it arguably the most important issue and largest challenge facing us today, but current food labels do not reveal free sugars. “Sugarwise gives you information that you are not currently told, in traffic lights or on food labels, and guides you to products that are definitely within the recommended guidelines for free sugars.”