Nearly three in four Brits want the government to force the food industry to cut the sugar content of foods. The poll, by BMG research for the Huffington Post, showed that only 10% don’t want tougher reformulation laws.
Support for the regulations increases with age, with support highest amongst those over 65 (75%). Support then gradually declines to 65% amongst 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 year olds.
The government’s decision to follow a self-regulatory approach in its childhood obesity strategy in relation to the reformulation of products has been widely criticised. The food and drink industry will instead be “challenged” to reduce overall sugar across a range of products by at least 20% by 2020.
Campaign groups suggested the approach is the “Responsibility Deal take two”. Research by McKinsey Global Institute in 2014 showed that portion control and reformulation are the most cost-effective interventions to curb obesity.
The BMG poll follows the launch of a new obesity strategy in Ireland last week. The plan includes reformulation targets, but it’s not yet clear whether these will be mandatory or not. There is also a sugary drinks tax, marketing restrictions and, from next year, voluntary guidelines on maximum portion sizes.
The Irish government also made a commitment develop new laws for calorie posting, including at restaurants and food service outlets. However, this may take 10 years.
Scotland’s government has also confirmed it will publish a national obesity strategy next year. The SNP also confirmed that a Circular Economy and Food Waste Bill would be introduced in 2017 – which should include details on actions to cut food waste by a third by 2025.