‘Addictive sugar’ letter – FGC response

17 August 2015

Katherine Rich responded to a letter to the Editor of The Press which said the Government’s excuse for a lack of action over controlling sugar in food was that “it’s entirely a matter of individual responsibility (as has been said by the Food and Grocery Council’s Katherine Rich, Peter Dunne and others).”

FGC’s letter:

Noelene Sanderson misquotes me. I have never said reducing obesity in our population is “entirely a matter of individual responsibility”. I have always said that tackling obesity requires a combined effort by government, the community, the food industry, families and individuals. Certainly, choice plays a part, but the causes of obesity are many and complex. Claims that sugar is the sole cause are not supported by the science. Several recent studies show that while obesity has been climbing, our intake of sugar has been declining. It’s not just sugar but over-indulgence of calories from all foods. Moderation and balancing energy in with energy out are the keys to a healthy diet. Food manufacturers recognise this and have been reformulating products for years, resulting in hundreds of tonnes of sugar, salt, and fat being removed from the food supply. Many provide smaller portion options and products with fewer calories. They are also involved in school and community programmes that promote healthy eating and regular exercise.

 Noelene Sanderson’s letter:

Addictive sugar

Your editorial (Aug 8) recommended that we need to work as a society in finding solutions to reduce the costs and suffering caused by our very high incidence of obesity. This was reiterated by Dave Kelly (Aug 11) and by your article on sugar-drinks (Aug 13). The late professor Don Beaven continually warned us against fat and sugar. The Government certainly won’t risk controlling the amounts of sugar which companies put in their (foodless) products. They are using a different excuse for their lack of action – that ‘‘it’s entirely a matter of individual responsibility’’ (as has been said by the Food and Grocery Council’s Katherine Rich, Peter Dunne and others). This stance is our major hurdle preventing change. This, despite the advice of Professors Lusking and Beaglehole and other experts that sugar (which turns to fat in the body) is such a heavy addiction that the Government can’t expect the individual to completely overcome it alone. - Noelene Sanderson, Retired staff nurse, Kirwee.