Obesity and Sugar – Successive governments have failed to act despite the warnings

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) report out on Friday 17th makes recommendations on sugar and fibre consumption.  Inevitably the recommendations on sugar got the most attention, with a call for us to reduce our intake by half.

2020health’s top messages:

  • Our 2014 report Careless Eating Costs Lives’ top message is that there is no sobesitythumbnailingle solution and unless a comprehensive strategy is put in place, levels of obesity will still rise.
  • Of crucial importance is prevention and early intervention. A holistic strategy is urgently needed for children and should be a top priority.
  • The evidence tells us that once an adult is obese, the vast majority remain obese. 0.5% of men will return to normal weight; and just under 1% of women [1]. The best evidenced treatment for obesity is bariatric surgery.

Our take – clinical and political

  1. Whilst updated research is necessary, this is unhelpful if it leads to piecemeal ‘solutions’ to a complex and multi-faceted problem.
  2. We are mystified as to why taxpayer’s money was used to produce another report telling us that sugar causes tooth decay and that people who eat too much sugar put on weight.
  3. The recommendations on fibre intake will be difficult for anyone to consume. The example given is: 30g of fibre a day could be achieved, for example by consuming ALL of the following in a day: five portions of fruit and vegetables, two slices of wholemeal bread, a portion of high fibre breakfast cereal, a baked potato and a portion of whole wheat pasta.
  4. Successive governments have failed to act despite the warnings. This is the biggest    public health failure of our time.

Julia Manning, CEO of 2020health said: This report tells us what we already know, and it isn’t the obesity strategy that we desperately need. There is no single solution to obesity and whilst many people do eat too much sugar, this advice needs to be part of a cross-cutting hard-hitting obesity strategy. We have called for a cross-departmental obesity task-force, and for all policy to be considered in the light of what it will mean for the public’s health. We still haven’t got the action we require to tackle this enormous problem.

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-33551498 reporting from the American Journal of Public Health

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About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social entrepreneur, writer, campaigner and commentator. She is based in London and is the founder and Chief Executive of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal. Through networking, technology, research, relationships and campaigning 2020health has influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. Julia studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991. Her career has included being a visiting lecturer at City University, a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital, working with south London Primary Care Trusts and as a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. She specialised in diabetes (University of Warwick Certificate in Diabetic Care) and founded Julia Manning Eyecare in 2004, a home and prison visiting practice for people with mental and physical disabilities using the latest digital technology, which she sold to Healthcall (now part of Specsavers) in 2009. Experiences of working in the NHS, contributing to policy development, raising two children in the inner-city and standing in the General Election in Bristol in 2005 led to Julia forming 2020health at the end of 2006. Julia is a regular guest on TV and radio shows such as BBC News, ITV’s Daybreak/ GMB, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions, BBC Radio, LBC and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week. She is mum to a rugby-mad son, a daughter passionate about Shakespeare, and wife of a comprehensive school assistant head-teacher. She loves gardening, ballet, Zimbabwe, her Westies Skye and Angus, is an honorary research associate at UCL and a Fellow of the RSA.
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