Improving health by reducing sugar

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Cambridge University research has characterised the link between consumption of sugary drinks and poor health, including obesity and type 2 diabetes – major problems that disproportionately affect people on low incomes.

This research has contributed importantly to the scientific evidence base and to policymaking, culminating in the UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy of 2016.

Manufacturers have responded by reducing the sugar content of drinks – the equivalent of 45 million kilograms less sugar every year, or 675g (a bag and a half) less sugar consumed per person per year in the UK. This effort has contributed to improvements in life expectancy and quality of life, and reductions in health inequalities.

Cambridge evidence has also enabled health advocacy groups to give practical advice to people to improve their health, and has guided policies of the World Health Organization, World Bank, International Diabetes Federation and several national dietary guidelines.

“[Cambridge’s research] fed into our discussions with other stakeholders including Public Health England… These discussions culminated in the introduction of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which has been so far successful in making companies reduce the amount of sugar in their drinks.”

– Diabetes UK