New approaches to the UK obesity problem in the drinks industry

Obesity is a problem that plagues many people around the UK, and so far the government has tried some voluntary approaches. One of those approaches seems to be bringing some results, as the public health minister Anna Soubry recently announced. As part of a so-called responsibility deal, the government reached an agreement with some food manufacturers to make two popular soft drinks more healthy.

Both Ribena and Lucozade will be reformulated so that they contain less sugar. Soubry said that this is clear evidence that the government’s approach of voluntary measures was working, and that tackling these health issues will take some time, but pay dividends in the end.

However, not everyone is pleased with the result of this action. Some of the campaigners behind better health said that the sugar and calorie reductions were tiny compared with the overall obesity problem in the country. Speaking at an event for the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), they showed some of the math that lead them to this conclusion.

For example, a 380ml bottle of one of the drinks, Lucozade Energy, which uses the same recipe originally launched in 1927, contains a total of 33g of sugar, along with 266 calories. The new deal plans a reduction of 8% sugar and 9% calories, which overall will not make a big difference. After drinking a single bottle, you still end up with a massive amount of sugar and calories in your system.

In fact, the head of Children’s Food Campaign, Charlie Powell, was quick to point out that even the new recipe will leave these drinks under a red light as far as the Food Standards Agency is concerned, because the levels are way above the 6.3g per 100ml sugar guidelines. Both brands are owned by GlaxoSmithKline, which said that this was a first step on the route to better health.