Public Health England, a UK government agency, has been campaigning for years for food manufacturers to produce healthier foods. The organisation designed a reformulation program in which food manufacturers can choose to participate. The program has set specific targets for the reduction of the number of calories, and amount of salt and sugar present in processed foods in the UK.
A recent study at the University of Oxford assessed the impact of this program and has found it to be ineffective. The researchers looked at the levels of calories, sugar, and salt, in food and drinks sold in UK supermarkets between 2015 and 2018, and found that not much has changed.
The only measurable change that took place is the sugar reduction in soft drinks. However, this is unlikely to have resulted (solely) due to this campaign. The U.K. introduced a sugar tax in 2018 which “forced” soft drink companies to reconsider the amount of sugar in their products.
It appears that encouraging food manufacturers to voluntarily reduce calories, sugar, or salt, may not be as effective as we would hope.
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