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FPH welcomes publication of PHE's sugar report

FPH President Professor John Ashton has warmly welcomed Public Health England's decision to publish its report Sugar Reduction: the evidence for action. Its eight recommendations include the introduction of a tax or levy on sugar drinks, which FPH supports.

Professor Ashton said: "Obesity is now a major challenge to the UK, but largely preventable by evidence-based measures that have already worked in other countries. We agree with PHE that no single action is the solution: obesity results from the environment that we live in. The battle against obesity will only be won by a comprehensive strategy that tackles its causes on several fronts. We believe that the following four measures are vital for success:

  • A 20% levy on all sugary drinks (the kind of fizzy pop that has no nutritional value)
  • Zero marketing and advertising of high-sugar food and drink products to children and adults across all media including digital platforms. This needs to includes celebrity and sports sponsorship.
  • Zero price promotions of junk food or sugary drinks in all shops, restaurants and takeaways.
  • Regulations to force a gradual sugar reduction in everyday food and drink products, combined with reductions in portion size.


Professor Ashton continued: "This episode raises important questions about the government's approach to public health. These must now be answered if we are to be serious about tackling the avoidable health problems which are a source of serious social injustice, hobbling our ability to compete in the global economy and are posing a threat to the viability of the NHS and the implementation of the NHS Five Year Forward Plan.

Public Health England has been put in an invidious position that has been an unwelcome distraction from its vital work of protecting and improving the health of the people it serves. That is why PHE must not only be independent of government but seen to be independent of government. We need clarification of its role so that PHE can play a robust and independent part in protecting and improving public health."




For further comment or to request an interview with Professor Ashton, please contact Liz Skinner, Senior Media and PR Officer, tel 020 369 1478, mobile 07703 715106 or email .



About FPH

The UK Faculty of Public Health (FPH) is committed to improving and protecting people's mental and physical health and wellbeing. As the leading professional body for public health specialists in the UK, our 3,300 members are trained to the highest possible standards of public health competence and practice, as set by FPH. For more than 40 years, we have been at the forefront of developing and expanding the public health workforce and profession.

Public Health England's report, Sugar Reduction: the evidence for action, is available via:


Its main recommendations are to:

  • Reduce and rebalance the number and type of price promotions in all retail outlets including supermarkets and convenience stores and the out-of-home sector (including restaurants, cafes and takeaways).
  • Significantly reduce opportunities to market and advertise high-sugar food and drink products to children and adults across all media including digital platforms and through sponsorship.
  • The setting of a clear definition for high-sugar foods to aid with actions 1 and 2 above. Currently the only regulatory framework for doing this is via the Ofcom nutrient profiling model, which would benefit from being reviewed and strengthened.
  • Introduction of a broad, structured and transparently monitored programme of gradual sugar reduction in everyday food and drink products, combined with reductions in portion size.
  • Introduction of a price increase of a minimum of 10% to 20% on high-sugar products through the use of a tax or levy such as on full-sugar soft drinks, based on the emerging evidence of the impact of such measures in other countries.
  • Adopt, implement and monitor the government buying standards for food and catering services (GBSF) across the public sector, including national and local government and the NHS to the ensure provision and sale of healthier food and drinks in hospitals, leisure centres etc.
  • Ensure that accredited training in diet and health is routinely delivered to all of those who have opportunities to influence food choices in the catering, fitness and leisure sectors and others within local authorities.
  • Continue to raise awareness of concerns around sugar levels in the diet to the public as well as health professionals, employers, the food industry etc, encourage action to reduce intakes and provide practical steps to help people lower their own and their families' sugar intake.


Written: 22/10/2015 , last modified: 12/02/2016