Europe’s soft drinks companies have made significant investments in reformulation and new product development to reduce sugar and calories. No- and low-calorie versions now represent some 24 % of sales across Europe.
Soft drinks manufacturers in the UK have lowered the sugar levels in their drinks after the government introduced the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) in April 2018 to help combat childhood obesity and related conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, researchers have found.
A UK study setting recommendations for the country's post-Brexit trade and agriculture has challenged the EU's sugar policy of the last decade, saying it stimulated sugar over-production. The Commission stood up for its 2016-2017 sugar quota system and dismissed the claim as unfounded.
Education about balanced diets brings tangible results according to the vending machines lobby, while parental organisations say lawmakers should insist on good habits to tackle childhood obesity, rather than regulation.
EURACTIV analyses the existing challenges policymakers face when it comes to healthy lifestyles in the EU, as well as the several initiatives that have been taken ranging from food reformulation to action at school level.
The end of sugar quotas coincides with the collapse of prices on the world market. This is currently more of a problem for sugar refiners than sugar beet growers, who are still protected by contracts. EURACTIV.fr reports
There is intensive lobbying by European sugar beet growers against the prospect of widening of EU quotas for non-EU cane sugar as part of ongoing bilateral free trade negotiations. Yet it might only be a matter of time until the EU allows more import of cane sugar from outside the bloc.
Europe’s soft drinks industry has announced it will stop selling sugary beverages in all schools in the European Union from late 2018. Health campaigners have welcomed the move but said more needs to be done to promote healthy eating in schools.
There is a great need to raise awareness and enhance education on diabetes and a healthier lifestyle “at every level”, Stella de Sabata, head of the International Diabetes Federation, told EURACTIV.com.
Studies from Britain and Mexico suggest reducing sugar in sweetened drinks or taxing it more to cut consumption can help people limit their calorie intake and lower their risk of developing diabetes, but not by much.
Specific taxes on sugar, salt or fat do cause reductions in consumption, the European Commission found in a new report. But higher taxes may also merely encourage consumers to go for cheaper products, it warned.