Sugar and calories slashed in soft drinks

Leading soft drinks brands Lucozade and Ribena will reduce the amount of sugar and calories in their products by up to 10% as part of the government’s drive to curb obesity levels, Public Health Minister Anna Soubry announced today.

Speaking at the Food and Drink Federation’s ’Delivering Healthy Growth’ stakeholder event, the minister unveiled the latest brands to sign up to the Responsibility Deal’s calorie reduction pledge. Ribena ready to drink and Lucozade Energy will reduce the amount of sugar and calories by up to 10%; AG Barr, who produce IrnBru, will reduce the calorific content across their portfolio of drinks by 5%; and J2O will launch two flavours in a new slimline can which will represent a 10% calorie reduction compared with their standard 275mL bottle.

The Public Health Responsibility Deal aims to tap into the potential for businesses and other influential organisations to make a significant contribution to improving public health by helping us to create this environment.

England has some of the highest obesity rates in the developed world with 60% of adults and one third of 10 and 11 year olds being overweight or obese.

The Government’s Obesity Call to Action outlined that consuming too many calories is at the heart of the problem and through initiatives like the Responsibility Deal Calorie Reduction pledge concerted action is needed.

Public Health Minister Anna Soubry said: ‘Being overweight and not eating well is bad for our health. To reverse the rising tide of obesity we have challenged the nation to reduce our calorie intake by five billion calories a day. On average that’s just 100 calories less a day per person.

‘Today’s announcement will cut the calories and sugar by up to 10 per cent in leading brands like Lucozade and Ribena. Through the Responsibility Deal we are already achieving real progress in helping people reduce the calories and salt in their diet. Overall, more than 480 companies including many leading high street brands have signed up to the Responsibility Deal.

‘All of the major supermarkets have now committed to removing artificial trans fats, and over 70% of fast food and takeaway meals sold on the high street have calories clearly labelled, but more needs to be done.

‘We are encouraged by the extra businesses which have signed up today but I want to see even more progress.  All in the food industry have a part to play and I now expect companies which are not yet taking action to come forward and make pledges.’

Since launching in 2011, the Responsibility Deal has worked with industry to achieve the following:

• Over 70% of the fast food and takeaway meals sold will have calories clearly labelled – almost 9,000 high street outlets by this year – with more companies signing up

• All of the major supermarkets and 69% of the retail market have committed to removing artificial trans fats – some 97 companies in all;

• Over 70% of the retail market and over half of the major high street and contract caterers are committed to further reductions in salt in over 80 categories of foods – such as bread, soups, cereals and pasta sauces

• Over 80% of all alcoholic drinks on shelf will have clear labelling on units, NHS guidelines and pregnancy messages by the end of next year – with 92 companies signed up. [Early indications are that more than 60% of labels already carry this information]

• 23 leading food and drink companies, including Coca-cola, Mondelez International (formerly Kraft Foods UK), Nestle, Subway and the major retailers had already signed up to the calorie reduction pledge — making some strong commitments to cut and cap calories, as well as through promotional activity encouraging people to eat healthier foods.  The additional signatories bring the total to 31.

• 34 major alcohol companies have committed to removing a billion units from sale. The initiative, which includes major brands like Echo Falls, First Cape and Heineken will see a greater choice of lower strength alcohol products and smaller measures by 2015

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