“Campaign group” Action on Sugar yesterday launched their Childhood Obesity Action Plan, as requested by Jeremy Hunt MP and having read it I am again confused, baffled and befuddled, in fact nearly as much it seems, as they are.
I highlighted the many obvious problems with the Action on Sugar campaign previously noting their narrow focus and failure to acknowledge obesity as a multifaceted issue. I also more recently pointed out that their campaign had singled out sugar as uniquely damaging while espousing the virtues of fat and that this was a bad idea.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that an obsessive focus on a single macronutrient (fat) is one of the reasons that we are where we are today, and that claims that reducing added sugar alone in processed food would solve the obesity crisis are ridiculous.
It seems however that something, somewhere has changed.
The Childhood Obesity Action Plan produced by Action on Sugar finally acknowledges that there are wider issues than just sugar reduction and that a range of measures will be required. Its not exactly a step change, the suggested measures are impractical and they still seems determined to blame the food industry for everything, but its an improvement of sorts.
However if you read the detail of the action plan you might raise an eyebrow – as unfeasibly high as Roger Moore during the 1980’s – at some of the contents.
Take Action 4 for example
Fat is a major source of calorie intake; we propose an incremental fat reduction programme similar to the salt and sugar reduction programme, to reduce fat by 15% by 2020 in all products.
Its taken them nearly six months to realise that calorie dense foods containing fat – which has about twice the calories of sugar – also need to be considered if you are to offer a joined up solution to obesity. Yes the suggest reduction constitutes only roughly 30kcal/day for 11-18 year olds but why did no one realise this for so long?
Even more surprising however is the rationale for targeting reductions in saturated fat
This should particularly focus on saturated fat, as this is the major factor controlling cholesterol levels (which is the third cause of death globally, through the vascular disease it causes, which leads to both strokes and heart attacks and peripheral vascular disease
Surprising because Action on Sugars Science Director Aseem Malhotra is the very person who wrote an article in the BMJ expressly refuting each and every statement in this rationale.
Does the Science Director not set the campaigns approach based upon the consensus view of the evidence? Has he had an epiphany since last year? How are decisions taken at Action on Sugar: A coin toss? The direction of the wind? A spur of the moment decision by the author of the press release?
Does anyone really think that Action on Sugar – now seemingly Action on Sugar, Salt, Saturated Fat, Advertising and Supermarket Layout – can come up with a coherent joined up solution to obesity when their very name shows how little they understand the issues, and they have a science director who doesn’t even subscribe to the views they promote?