Campaigners call for action on product calories

This past week saw campaign group Action on Sugar call on the UK government to introduce a calorie tax for sweet goods including confectionery.

According to the charity, urgent policies are required to deal with what it describes as an obesity crisis due to excessive consumption of fat as well as sugar in biscuits, cakes and other baked items.

Campaigners are seeking a levy based on a similar model to the sugar tax applied to the soft drinks industry, yet the jury is seemingly still out as to how effective this has proved.

Early analysis has shown that a number of manufacturers actually altered their recipes deliberately in response ahead of the levy coming into force last year.

So, it may not be unreasonable to think that the same could potentially happen with regards to the snacks and confectionery sector in taking pre-emptive measures.

Action On Sugar is seeking a system where companies pay a levy to the government if they fail to reduce excessive calories within their product ranges. Funds raised from the levy would then be put towards improving children’s health by investing in tackling childhood obesity.

Under Public Health England recommendations, confectionery and snacks companies have already been tasked voluntarily with reducing sugar content by a total of 20% by 2020.

But it seems that the sector has still some ground to make up in reaching this, with the technical challenges and costs associated with reformulation work proving a barrier to such an initiative. There is also the very valid question of whether confectionery reduced in sugar can match the flavour profiles of existing ‘full sugar’ options.

One manufacturer making a timely response on this issue is Mondelez International, which has just pledged to make its Cadbury chocolate and biscuit brands that are marketed at children all under 100 calories per serving. Only time will tell how many other businesses will follow suit with this approach.



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