A group of international health experts has launched a new campaign intended to reduce the amount of sugar in processed foods and beverages sold in the United Kingdom (U.K.). Modeled after the Consensus Action on Salt and Health and chaired by Queen Mary University of London Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine Graham MacGregor, Action on Sugar includes a number of U.K. scientists and academics as well as National Obesity Forum Chair David Haslam and University of California, San Francisco, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics Robert Lustig.
The campaigners aim to set gradual sugar reduction targets for the food industry similar to those established for salt content, warning that failure to meet such targets would prompt the group to pursue legislation or a sugar tax. They also seek to (i) educate the public about “the impact of sugar on their health,” (ii) identify children as “a particularly vulnerable group whose health is more at risk from high sugar intakes,” and (iii) ensure that nutrition labels clearly display the sugar content of all processed foods.
“Sugar is the new tobacco,” said University of London Professor of Clinical Epidemiology Simon Capewell in a January 9, 2014, press release. “Everywhere, sugary drinks and junk foods are now pressed on unsuspecting parents and children by a cynical industry focused on profit not health. The obesity epidemic is already generating a huge burden of disease and death. Obesity and diabetes already costs the UK over £5 billion every year. Without regulation, these costs will exceed £50 billion by 2050.”