Sugar taxes not ruled out as government strategy says ‘further action’ will be taken if results are not seen

The food industry was given targets to cut sugar content in common foods by a fifth by 2020.

The categories include breakfast cereals, yoghurts, cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolate, ice cream and sweet spreads.

But last year’s figures showed a fall of just 2 per cent, against a first year goal of 5 per cent, with no changes in the sugar content of chocolates or biscuits, while puddings became even sweeter.

The new obesity strategy says: “We will continue to work with business and industry through the Government’s reduction and reformulation programmes on sugar, calories and salt and remain committed to further action if results are not seen.”

PHE has said that taxes on other foods would be “the obvious place to start” if the sugar reduction programme does not make sufficient progress. 

When she stepped down as chief medical officer last year, Dame Sally Davies urged ministers to expand the taxes to cover chocolate and crisps. 

On Monday health minister Helen Whately said the Government had learned “from the effectiveness”  of the Sugary Drinks Levy, which had encouraged manufacturers to reduce sugar content of their products, rather than pay the taxes. 

Stressing that an extension of the sugar tax is not one of the policies being announced at the moment, she said manufacturers were likely to make changes to the ingredients in their products, given the controls brought in on advertising of unhealthy foods. 

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