Public Health England has highlighted children’s excess sugar consumption levels and suggested that “fiscal measures” – the so-called pudding tax – may be needed to ensure that the food industry meets a target to cut 20% of sugar from the foods children consume most by 2020.

According to the government health agency, UK children are consuming around 52g of sugar a day, significantly more than the recommended daily maximums for different age groups: these stand at 19g for children aged four to six, 24g for children aged seven to 10 and 30g for those aged 11 and over.

PHE will produce figures later this year on progress towards the 20% reduction figure, but back in May 2018, it reported there had been an average 2% reduction in sugar across categories for retailers and manufacturers, against a 5% target.

“If we see less progress, there would be a case for fiscal measures,” Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, told the BBC.

The alarming statistic that children have already exceeded the maximum recommended sugar intake for an 18 year old by the time they reach their tenth birthday, comes as PHE launched a new Change4Life campaign to help families cut back by making simple daily swaps to healthier versions of everyday food and drinks.

Brands – including Nestlé Shredded Wheat, Nestlé Low Sugar Oat Cheerios, Petits Filous and Soreen (malt loaf) – will display the ‘Good Choice’ badge online, in-store and throughout their advertising, to help parents find healthier options.

The long-running Change4Life campaign now has the highest awareness and trust levels since it started, according to PHE, partly because of innovations like the Sugar Smart app and partnerships with schools.

“You walk away from that yellow [logo] at your peril because people know it’s a brand they can trust and it’s from the government,” PHE marketing director Sheila Mitchell told Marketing Week. “They know there is this authority voice there.”

Mitchell added that there is a “rigorous process” behind PHE research to see if its campaigns are working.

“You don’t see systemic changes but you see lots of little shifts that add up to show that the culture is changing,” she said.

Sourced from PHE, BBC, Marketing Week; additional content by WARC staff