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UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to debate recommended sugar levels

The UK dietary recommendation is that sugar should make up no more than 10% of daily calorie intake (this includes added sugar and free sugars in fruit juices and honey).

Average intakes exceed this, which is why Public Health England advises that most people need to reduce their sugar intake.

In the UK, Government is advised on nutrition by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN). SACN is currently reviewing dietary recommendations on carbohydrates (including advice on sugar). The work is being undertaken by their working group on carbohydrates and health who can only advise based on the science. It is anticipated that their draft report with be available this summer when it will go for public consultation. The report is likely to be finalised by the end of the year.

Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, said:

Members of SACN and its working groups are appointed as individuals in their own right to fulfil the role of the Committee, not as representatives of their particular profession, employer or interest group. They have a duty to act in the public interest, in accordance with the ‘Code of Conduct for Scientific Advisory Committees’ and to be independent and professionally impartial. Members are required to declare any potential conflicts of interest annually and new ones at the first appropriate committee meeting which is included in the minutes and published on the SACN website.

In keeping with the ‘Code of Conduct for Scientific Advisory Committees’ SACN invite lay, consumer and industry representatives onto the Committee to ensure a broad church of skills, expertise and experience are available during discussions.

Throughout SACNs deliberations on carbohydrates and health there have been processes in place to ensure the transparency and integrity of the review. These processes include:

  • systematic literature reviews using strict criteria for inclusion (published on the committee website)
  • use of a framework which set out criteria for consideration of different types of evidence (published on the committee’s website)
  • oversight of the work and the deliberations of SACN Working Group by independent experts and government officials, the SACN main committee and the SACN chair
  • public consultation on the draft report whereby members of the public and other interested parties can input into the report
  • sign off by the SACN full committee and SACN Chair of the draft and final report

It is clear that the conclusions and recommendations made in the report on carbohydrates and health would reflect considerations of the whole of SACN and would not be influenced by an individual member of the Committee.