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Health: Sugar Consumption — Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:15 pm on 6th February 2013.

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Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health 3:15 pm, 6th February 2013

My noble friend asks a number of questions. I am sure he will have welcomed, as I did, the announcement a few days ago by two major manufacturers of sugary drinks that they were substantially reducing the sugar content of their drinks. This is in part a result of the engagement that we have had with the food industry, which, in public health terms, is taking on responsibility for the products that it makes.

While there are advocates for taxation, in 2012 my department reviewed the international evidence of the effect of taxation on people's consumption of food and drink. There is very limited empirical evidence, certainly from literature, but also in practice that that has an effect on body weight or health outcomes. There is a range of possible unintended consequences, including swapping for other foods which may be even less healthy than the ones that we are trying to cut out.