Supermarket giant Tesco plans to cut the sugar content of its soft drinks by five per cent every year, in what campaigners described as the first “major sugar reduction programme” of any retailer.
The strategy will see all added sugar taken out of the supermarket’s ‘Kids’ category drinks, while own-brand full sugar drinks will be reformulated to reduce sugar content by five per cent a year.
High sugar intake has been identified as a major contributor to the obesity epidemic in Western countries. UK Government health advisors recommended last year that sugar consumption should be halved, from 10 per cent of daily energy intake, to five per cent.
The campaign group, Action on Sugar, led by doctors and scientists, has called for a gradual programme to cut our sugar intake by gradually reducing the amounts present in food and drink. A similar programme for salt led to a 15 per cent drop in the national intake between 2003 and 2011, which coincided with falls in blood pressure and a reduction in deaths from strokes and heart disease.
Welcoming Tesco’s decision, Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of Action on Sugar said: “Incremental, unobtrusive reformulation is the key way of reducing calories across all sweetened drinks – merely having the option of ‘diet’ or ‘no sugar’ products does not work, particularly for the most socially deprived.”
A spokesperson for Tesco said that while the group’s sugar reformulation approach had begun in 2012, with the sugar content of soft drinks cut by 30 per cent since then, the company had a “commitment to continue this work”.
“Overall, our focus is to help customers make healthier choices - reformulation and calorie reduction in products is part of that,” the spokesperson said.