The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) report on carbohydrates is understood to have ditched a recommendation that 10% of total energy intake is an “acceptable upper limit” for sugar.
The Grocer understands that, unlike the draft report which came out in June last year, the recommendations focus only on a reduction to 5% of total energy intake from sugar, with experts warning it will mean massive changes to diets.
Industry figures and health campaigners were being briefed on the changes this morning, although SACN barred the media from attending.
In the 2014 draft, SACN said that a level of 10% of dietary energy from free sugars (70g/day for men and 50g/day for women) was an upper target at an “individual level.”
At the same time it said that on a population level it was aiming for 5%, not least because some individuals may not eat any sugars.
However, SACN is understood to have been concerned that this would send mixed messages to the public in the war on sugar.
Report author Professor Macdonald told The Grocer it wanted the DH, if it accepted the new figure, to make no public distinction between individual and population figures and instead rely on the lower 5% figure as the national target.
However, industry sources have questioned how SACN’s advice could have changed in just over a year.
“It has to be asked if 10% was an acceptable upper limit in June 204, why is it not now?,” said one source.
Several bodies, including the Food and Drink Federation and the British Soft Drinks Industry had challenged the evidence presented by SACN, which singled out soft drinks as a key cause of obesity and diabetes but it is understood that the claims of a lack of evidence have been dismissed by SACN in the new report.
Last week The Grocer revealed how research by the British Nutrition Foundation had shown that to hit the 5% there would be no place at all for fizzy drinks, apart from very low calorie or zero calories options, if people are to have a diet that meets the targets. Products such as crisps and chocolate bars should, according to the report, be “once or twice a week” luxuries, not an everyday snack.
Public Health England had been due to release proposals on how to reach the figure, including studies on the effectiveness of a sugar tax, a clampdown on advertising and in store promotions and reformulation targets, to coincide with the SACN report.
However, as revealed by The Grocer earlier this week, the report has been held back so it can feed into a wider DH strategy on childhood obesity.