Mail Online is reporting claims that a UN recommendation to halve sugar intake will not be implemented in Britain according a Whitehall adviser on nutrition who has worked for Mars and Coca-Cola, sparking claims of “immense arrogance”…
The influential UK newspaper the Sunday Times has revealed that one of the country’s leading nutritional experts, tasked by the British government with proposing new limits for the nation’s sugar consumption, is working as a paid adviser to Coca-Cola and Mars…
Professor Ian Macdonald chairs a government panel examining the health impact of sugar consumption, amid growing concern that excessive amounts in food are fuelling the obesity epidemic.
It will recommend to the government later this year what level of sugar in our diet is healthy, helping to frame the national guidance.
However, the Nottingham University scientist confirmed last week that he provided monthly advice to Mars “at board level” and also advised Coca-Cola on diet, obesity and exercise. He said the annual payment of £6,100 from Coca-Cola went into his personal income — it “goes into [my] tax return” — while the larger payment from Mars helped to fund his university research.
The disclosure of his links to the companies, in an investigation by Channel 4 Dispatches to be shown tomorrow, prompted demands this weekend that Macdonald should resign from the chairmanship of the panel because of the “unacceptable” conflict of interests.
Simon Capewell, a Liverpool University professor and founding member of the Action on Sugar campaign, said Macdonald’s role was untenable. “I am shocked,” he said. “This is a scandal for public health. It’s like putting Dracula in charge of a blood bank. It’s clearly an outrageous conflict of interest.
“If Ian Macdonald doesn’t step down [from the panel], there will be real concerns that their recommendations will be prejudiced by commercial factors rather than scientific public health priorities.”
It will be the second time that Macdonald’s interests have drawn him into controversy. Macdonald stood down from a paid advisory role with Coca-Cola and Mars in 2009 after concerns were raised with health officials about his potential conflict of interest.
Dispatches has, however, established that he started working for the two companies again in 2012 after successfully seeking approval from officials…
The BBC challenged James Quincy, the European president of Coca Cola, on its flagship Newsnight programme last week over the amount of sugar in Coke and whether drinkers have any real idea how much they are consuming with every drink. However, over on his blog, Dr Briffa suggests the situation is even worse than Mr Quincy was suggesting. First the interview then an extract from Dr Briffa’s response…
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From Dr Briffa:
A couple of Mr Quincy’s responses got my attention. One is that 35 grams of sugar (the amount in one 330 ml can) equates to 6 teaspoons of sugar. This means that 1 teaspoon of sugar should weight about 6 grams. I measured out 12 teaspoons of sugar just now and my electronic scales read 54 grams. I make that 4.5 grams of sugar per teaspoon. Look around the web (as I have done) and you will find plenty of references to there being about 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon. Let’s be generous and go with the 4.5 g figure. This makes 35 grams equivalent to almost 8.66 teaspoons of sugar (not 6). This might be an honest mistake by Mr Quincy, but it is nonetheless wrong and misleading.
Also, in the interview, Mr Quincy tells us that the calories in this sugar equate to those found in a cappuccino or half a croissant. Bringing everything down to calories (irrespective of their form) appears to be a conscious tactic used by Coca Cola: Earlier this year the company launched a TV advert that showed people engaging in a variety of activities including dog walking and dancing. The conceit was that the activities being featured would burn the same number of calories found in a can of Coca Cola.