Today in the Chamber Lord John Sharkey will ask the Government what progress it is making in persuading fast food chains to sign up to the Public Health Responsibility Deal pledge on calorie reduction. But the big issue, he writes here, is cutting the amount of sugar in our diets more generally
About a year ago, I asked the Government how many fast food chains had signed up to the Department of Health’s pledge on calorie reduction.
The answer was “one”. That was Subway.
And when I checked the Department’s website this morning, the answer was still “one”. Still only Subway. No sign of the other major chains. McDonald’s hasn’t signed up. Nor has Burger King. Nor has KFC.
That’s why my question asks the Government to explain what progress they’re making in signing these people up.
But there’s another reason for my question. It gives me a chance to ask about sugar consumption.
There’s been a lot of publicity this weekend about the terrible effects of too much sugar in our diets. And there is too much sugar in our diets. Excessive sugar consumption is a clear contributor to obesity, which in its turn is associated with many other conditions, such as diabetes. The incidence of both obesity and diabetes is already at alarming levels and looks set to get even worse unless we take urgent action.
We can see by looking at salt consumption how we might do that.
The story of the attempt to reduce our salt intake is a success story. There is a dedicated salt reduction pledge in the Department’s Public Health Responsibility Deal. This pledge sets out clear numerical targets for salt reduction.
There isn’t a specific sugar reduction pledge. There should be.
We need a sugar reduction pledge to be part of the Public Health Responsibility Deal. And this pledge should set clear numerical targets for reducing the amount of sugar we eat.
I hope the Department of Health is becoming more alert to the need to up our game on sugar reduction.
There are some encouraging signs. Dr Susan Jebb is the Chair of the Department’s Public Health responsibility Deal Food Network. Over the weekend, the Telegraph reported her as suggesting we remove fruit juice from the five-a-day recommendations. According to the Telegraph, she pointed out that some fruit juice contains as much sugar as Coca-Cola.
This sounds a sensible first step. But we do need a proper, joined-up approach to excessive sugar consumption.
The Government should make a start by adding a specific sugar reduction pledge to the other pledges in its Public Health Responsibility Deal.
And that’s what I’ll be saying to them today.
Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.