An influential report expected to help set future public policy on obesity has been delayed for months, with the government blaming the “sheer volume” of responses it received from the industry and health campaigners.
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition published its draft proposals for the role of carbohydrates in the diet in June after a seven-year inquiry, and had been expected to produce its final report in late 2014/early 2015.
However, a meeting of SACN held this week revealed the final report would now not come out until the spring, leading to speculation there would be little government action on it until after the General Election.
“The report had originally been due to come out early in the new year,” a spokeswoman for Public Health England said.
“It’s been delayed because of the sheer volume of responses. We didn’t expect so many people to respond.”
However, insiders suggested the delay could also be down to scientific challenges over SACN’s call to slash the recommended consumption of free sugars to just 5% of daily energy intake, down from the existing target of 10%.
Some respondents accused SACN of not being clear about how it reached its findings, especially the link between sugar intake and obesity, which the report admitted had suffered from a “lack of evidence.”
One insider claimed SACN had yet to even finish studying all the responses to its inquiry. “Ultimately I would not expect the main proposals to be changed, but it is certainly going to delay things substantially.”