Britain’s pursuit of sugar reduction and healthier lifestyle

A sense of urgency prevails in the UK. We are not talking about Brexit. No, the sense of urgency has to do with a widespread epidemic. The villain is too much sugar in food. Every third pupil is expected to be overweight or has developed obesity before even leaving primary school. The UK government demands that the food industry reduce its sugar content by five per cent - every year for five years. They get help along by two British television personalities – Jamie Oliver and Michael Mosley – who do their share for a better lifestyle. About all of this write today’s columnist.

29 November 2019 •

We see them on television, at the best broadcast time. They offer knowledge and entertainment at the same time. I’m thinking of the TV personalities Michael Mosley and Jamie Oliver.

Two TV profiles

Michael Mosley is a British medical journalist who, together with other medical experts, is exploring different ways to achieve better health. He is, among other things, the originator of the 5: 2 method that involves eating a restricted number of calories two days a week and a balanced diet the rest of the week.

Jamie Oliver, best known as the Naked Chef, is celebrated for his cooking based on simple and pure ingredients. Today we can see Jamie Oliver travel around the world, often to help people go back to the kitchen and cook “real” food again. At home, he engages in the British children’s school lunches, which until now have not been the most nutritious. To eat nutritionally, there is hardly any room for fatty, salty and sugary finished or semi-manufactured meals.

Simple – no rocket science

Their television programs capture millions of viewers. These are stylish, easily accessible productions that can inspire personal change. The tips are smart, but it’s not rocket science the British gentlemen Oliver and Mosley serve us on the couch. They just show how easy it can be to change the eating habits and behaviours we keep for convenience.

A sense of urgency

At the same time, the UK government, authorities and interest groups are working their way. They want to influence the food industry to take responsibility for the crisis the country’s population is facing.

There is a sense of urgency, that is, a feeling that the situation is difficult and that it is vital to bring about a change.

The crisis is about increasingly widespread obesity.

The problem of obesity must be solved

In August 2017, the Department of Health and Social Care, published a strong statement on Twitter:

20 per cent sugar reduction by 2020

In 2015, the British government with the support of agencies and organizations, made vigorous effort to stop the crisis. The goal was to reduce the amount of sugar in a number of products by 20 per cent by 2020. The reduction should be 5 per cent per year over five years.

The 20 per cent target was set to improve the situation among British children, where obesity is increasing fast. One of three children in the UK is estimated to be overweight or have developed obesity before leaving primary school.

The way out of the crisis is about reducing the amount of sugar in a number of popular, easily accessible and everyday products.

Slowly moving forward

Public Health England (PHE) does annual follow-ups to investigate how the food industry lives up to the government’s required sugar reduction. This year, the average reduction was only 2 per cent.

Products such as yoghurt, quark, breakfast cereals and sweet toppings like jam have reached the 5 per cent target. In the UK, there is a special sugar tax on soft drinks, and it has had an effect. The sugar levels in sweetened beverages have been reduced by a total of 28.3 per cent per 100 ml. The customers haven’t reacted negatively to less sugary drinks, at least it appears so since the purchase of soft drinks has remained intact.

More sugar in sweets

At the same time, PHE has noted that both sweets and puddings have become sweeter. Thus, more sugar is added to these products.

The campaign group Action on Sugar believes that more needs to be done by the food industry. This is especially true of sugar reduction of cookies, chocolate – and the sweeter puddings.

Next year we have the answer

Will the UK government, with the support of authorities and organizations, succeed in its goal? Will the food industry find simple sugar-reducing solutions for its products?

At the end of 2020, we will know the answer.

But one thing is sure: In the meantime, I will let me be inspired by the two British television personalities Jamie Oliver and Michael Mosley, who do their share for a better lifestyle. I will be in good company; we are millions of viewers enjoying the gentlemen’s shows.

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