British expert: 'Sugar is the new tobacco'

Jan. 12, 2014 at 11:35 PM
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LIVERPOOL, England, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- A University of Liverpool researcher, part of Action on Sugar, which aims to reduce unnecessary amounts of sugar in the diet, says sugar is the new tobacco.

Professor Simon Capewell of the university's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society is one of a number of health experts from around the world who support the campaign, which aims to make the public more aware of the damage of refined sugars and to encourage shoppers to read food labels.

"Sugar is the new tobacco," Capewell said in a statement. "Everywhere, sugary drinks and junk foods are now pressed on unsuspecting parents and children by a cynical industry focused on profit not health."

Children's health is at particularly risk from high sugar intake, both in terms of obesity and diabetes, and also dental disease, or cavities, Action on Sugar said.

The Action on Sugar group said it hopes to persuade the food and drink industry and Britain's Department of Health to work together to adopt a reformulation program to gradually reduce the amount of sugar added to food products.

Action on Sugar calculates a 20 percent to 30 percent reduction in sugar added to food over a three-to-five-year period is easily achievable.

This would result in a valuable reduction in calorie intake, averaging approximately 100 fewer calories per day, and even more in people particularly prone to obesity, Capewell added.

A similar program to reduce salt intake, pioneered by Consensus Action on Salt and Health, was very successful. It resulted in 20 percent to 40 percent less salt in most supermarket products, and an overall 15 percent reduction in an individual's salt consumption -- with a minimum reduction of 6,000 strokes and heart attack deaths a year, Capewell said.

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