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Last Updated: Friday, 17 September, 2004, 23:00 GMT 00:00 UK
Government 'gets tough' on sugar
Image of chocolate cake
Too much sweet food is bad for you
The government is getting tough on sugar - hot on the heels of its recent salt crackdown campaign.

Britons will be persuaded to limit their sugar intake and industry will be urged to cut levels in our foods.

Sugar will be top of the government's hit list to improve the health of the nation through what people eat, an obesity conference heard this week.

Imogen Sharp from the Department of Health spoke at the Royal College of GPs conference in London.

Sweet tooth

Head of Health Improvement and Improvement, Ms Sharp said: "Sugar is next, once the present campaign on salt is over, we will be looking at a campaign to reduce the amount of sugar people are eating."

The campaigns aim to cut obesity and its related health problems.

Current estimates for England suggest 70% of men and 63% of women, 24 million people in total, are obese or overweight.

It is good news that the government is going to take this problem seriously at last
Dr Graham Archard, RCGP obesity spokesperson

It is also a growing problem with children and young people. Around 16% of two to 15 year olds are obese.

Obesity brings its own health problems, including hypertension, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Treating ill-health caused by poor diet costs the NHS at least 4 billion each year, according to the Department of Health.

Getting tough

A White Paper on public health is expected next month.

Ms Sharp said it would see the government "getting tough" on school meals and the start of a clampdown on inappropriate food advertising for children.

She said ministers had been "shocked and horrified" to find that what children were eating at schools bore little relation to existing guidance.

New guidelines will be much stricter and better enforced, she said.

Dr Graham Archard, RCGP obesity spokesperson, said: "It is good news that the government is going to take this problem seriously at last.

"Sugar is a major problem that leads to obesity, diabetes and other serious medical conditions."

Speaking at the conference Dr John Wilding, an obesity spokesperson, from University Hospital in Aintree, Liverpool, suggested fizzy soft drinks could carry health warnings, similar to those already found on cigarettes.

"American research has shown a clear link between fizzy drink consumption and conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Maybe we should start thinking about having warnings on the cans themselves."




SEE ALSO:
Britons told to cut salt intake
13 Sep 04  |  Health


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