03 January 2019

Is the UK's sweet tooth about to be hit by a "pudding tax"?

Public Health England (PHE) has called for the introduction of a “pudding tax” on companies if they fail to reduce the amount of sugar in their food products. 

In May 2018, progress against the first-year sugar reduction ambition of 5% was published, which showed an average of only 2% reduction in sugar across categories for retailers and manufacturers.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said:

Children are consuming too much sugar, but parents can take action now to prevent this building up over the years. To make this easier for busy families, Change4Life is offering a straightforward solution – by making simple swaps each day, children can have healthier versions of everyday foods and drinks, while significantly reducing their sugar intake.”

PHE said the recommended daily maximum amount of sugar for children aged four to six is 19g, or five cubes. For those aged seven to 10, the figure rises to 24, and then to 30g for children 11 and over. But in the UK, children are consuming some 13 cubes (52g) of sugar a day, according to the organisation, based on the latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey results.

Half of the sugar in children’s diets comes from drinks, sweets, cakes, puddings, breakfast cereals, biscuits, and yoghurts, PHE explained. It has offered advice to parents on the Change4Life website, and highlights manufacturers working to cut down on sugar in their food products. A new “Good Choice” badge has been launched to help people better identify items without excessive amounts of sugar.

The government’s childhood obesity strategy has already warned that “mandatory and fiscal levers” could be introduced if the food industry does not make sufficient changes.

What do you think? Is it time for a "pudding tax"?