The author of the SACN carbohydrates report has warned health lobby pressure against sugar could scupper the chances of voluntary industry reformulation.
Professor Ian Macdonald said he believed if companies were given time to gradually reduce sugar they could achieve the target of cutting consumption to 5% or less of individual daily energy intake.
But despite the government this week ruling a sugar tax, in response to a campaign by Jamie Oliver, Macdonald said he feared the government would not allow sugar to be reduced over the long term, as with salt. “I don’t think it’s politically acceptable. I think it should happen - but it won’t happen.”
Macdonald, whose July report prompted the government to halve recommended sugar intake, said hitting that target was unachievable “in a short timescale. If the demands from Action on Sugar and policy makers is that something must happen now, you won’t be able to do it.”
He added the number of people hitting SACN’s 5% sugar target was higher than previously thought, at 12% of the population. However, just 1% currently hit SACN’s fibre target, and the British Nutrition Foundation has warned families face huge hikes in food bills to hit the targets. A new study it carried out shows a model diet would cost at least £36.82 per person a week (excl. alcohol), despite being based on Tesco and Sainsbury’s value items. By comparison, average food spend for an entire household currently stands at £56.80 [Family Food Survey].