UK reduces sugar content of soft drinks by 29%

Tuesday, 21 January, 2020

UK reduces sugar content of soft drinks by 29%

The British Government introduced the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) in April 2018, to help tackle childhood obesity. Research published in BMC Medicine has now revealed that individual soft drink companies in the United Kingdom are reducing the sugar content of their products, with eight out of the top 10 companies reducing sugar by 15% or more. Researchers analysed the nutritional information of carbonated drinks, concentrates, 100% juice, juice drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks and bottled water, and combined this with sales data from 2015–2018.

The study revealed that sustained pressure on business, including using fiscal measures, has led to a notable reduction in the sugar content of soft drinks in the UK. Coca-Cola and Britvic have reduced the total quantity of sugars sold in drinks by 17% and 26% respectively.

“It is encouraging to see such a large reduction in sugars sold in soft drinks. These changes are likely to be due to a combination of government action, mostly through the SDIL; changes in marketing practices on the part of the soft drinks industry; and greater awareness of the harms caused by sugary drinks amongst consumers. They show that it is possible for improvements in public health to be consistent with successful business practices,” said Lauren Bandy, lead researcher.

Approximately 73% of the reduction in the amount of sugar sold in soft drinks was attributed to reformulation or the introduction of new, lower-sugar drinks, with 27% due to changes in purchasing behaviour.

Image credit: © Kamitori

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