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World Action on Salt. Sugar & Health

Sugar Reduction

In recognition of the negative impact excess sugar intake can have on health, countries are implementing sugar reduction strategies. Below we summarise voluntary sugar reduction targets in place worldwide.


In 2018 the Brazilian Government announced that it had reached an agreement with  68 companies that produce 87% of Brazil’s food and drink products, to reduce sugar levels in 1,147 products.​

They aim to take out 144,000 tons of sugar by 2022 from 23 product categories which fall within five broad groups:

  • sweetened beverages
  • biscuits
  • ready-made cakes and cake mixes
  • powdered chocolate
  • dairy products

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New Zealand

New Zealand’s Heart Foundation manage the country’s voluntary reformulation programme, working with food companies to set voluntary targets for salt, sugar and saturated fat. Targets are in place for:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Gravies and sauces
  • Table sauces
  • Canned baked beans
  • Canned spaghetti
  • Cereal and nut/seed bars
  • Dairy yogurt and other dairy products
  • Flavoured dairy milk

Data Source


The UK’s sugar reduction programme was announced in the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan, which was published in 2016.

The programme, managed by Public Health England (PHE), challenged the food industry to reduce the overall sugar content of the food products that contribute the most sugar to children’s intakes by 20% by 2020, including an initial 5% reduction in the first year of the programme (by August 2017), compared to sugar levels in the foods in 2015.

The product categories covered by the programme are:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Yogurts
  • Biscuits
  • Cakes
  • Morning goods (e.g. croissants, English muffins, waffles)
  • Puddings
  • Ice cream, lollies and sorbets
  • Chocolate confectionary
  • Sweet confectionary
  • Sweet spreads and sauces (e.g. chocolate spread, peanut butter, dessert toppings)

PHE provided a 2015 baseline average sugar content, a 5% reduction guideline, a 20% reduction guideline and a calorie (kcal) per serve guideline for industry. They also specified that sugar reduction should be achieved without an increase in the saturated fat content of the product and, ideally, should be accompanied by a calorie reduction.

Rather than specifying maximum or average targets for each categories, PHE state that the 20% reduction in sugar content could be achieved by:

  • reformulating products to lower the levels of sugar present
  • reducing the number of calories in, and/or portion size, of products that are likely to be consumed by an individual at one time
  • shifting consumer purchasing towards lower/no added sugar products

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Following their success in setting and monitoring voluntary salt targets, in 2018 the National Salt Reduction Initiative, based at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, expanded to cover sugar. Preliminary targets were set in 2018, with further comments invited in 2019, for 15 categories of food and drinks:

  • Sugary drinks
  • Sweetened milk
  • Sweetened milk substitutes
  • Breakfast pastries
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Dry mixes
  • Granola bars
  • Refrigerated and frozen desserts
  • Sweet candies
  • Chocolate candies
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Condiments
  • Dessert syrups and toppings
  • Yogurt

Data Source

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