The UK’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham is considering proposing a 30% cap on sugar content in cereals to tackle rising childhood obesity.
Government health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the coalition government may consider legislation, but would give manufacturers a chance to get their “house in order”, he told ITV News.
Alison Last, Corporate Affairs, Kellogg UK, said: “The problem with ideas like this is they want an easy, silver bullet solution to what is a very difficult issue. It all boils down to the fact we believe parents, and not the government, should choose what their kids eat.”
She added that breakfast cereals only accounted for 3.5% of the total sugar purchased by UK shoppers every year.
We asked The Association of Cereal Food Manufacturers’ (ACFM), which represents cereal makers in the UK, for its stance on a sugar cap.
It pointed us to a number of studies that it show that consumers of who eat breakfast cereals have a lower body mass index (BMI) than non-consumers and are at less risk of being overweight.
Honey Nut Cheerios (General Mills) - 32%
Cocoa Krispies/Cocoa Pops (Kellogg) - 39%
Frosted Flakes/Frosties (Kellogg) -37%
Golden Grahams (General Mills) - 35%
UK has third fattest kids in Europe
A report by the Organization for the Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found last year that the UK had the third highest proportion of obese children (age 5-17) in Europe – behind Italy and Greece. See HERE.
Burnham said that it was perhaps time for a cap on fat, salt and sugar content in children’s food.
Burnham: More sugar than parents realize
“This is about giving parent more peace of mind because there are products marketed at children that contain high levels of sugar, particularly cereals, than perhaps they realize,” he said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
“I’m not comfortable with any child sitting down to a bowl of food that is 40% sugar,” he said.
He added on Twitter: “I'm not banning any cereal. But as Sugar Puffs are aimed at kids, not adults, doesn't it make sense to limit the sugar?”
Sugar levels in cereals
Harvard School of Public Health data taken between 2008 and 2009 details sugar levels in dozens of popular cereals.
Many popular brands were found to contain above 30% sugar. General Mills’ Honey Nut Cheerios contained 32%, while Kellogg’s brands such as Cocoa Krispies (Cocoa Pops) 39% Frosted Flakes (Frosties) 37%.
Last said: “We’ve been selling Frosties for more than 60 years and it's predominantly eaten by men over 30. People know there is sugar in them – we don’t hide it.”