Health groups have demanded tougher action on food manufacturers and retailers after five of the eight measured food categories have failed to meet the government’s 5% sugar reduction target.
The failures are contrasted in the report with the success of the sugar levy, where sugar levels fell by 11% over the same time period.
“It seriously calls into question the industry’s engagement with the voluntary approach,” said Prof Russell Viner, president of the The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
Calling for more firmer regulation to drive sugar reduction, the Obesity Health Alliance’s Caroline Cerny said: “We have seen the success of the soft drinks industry levy in turbo-charging reformulation in sugary soft drinks.”
Read more: Action on Sugar nutritionist: "There is an opportunity to look at taxation on confectionery."
Public Health England, who released the stats, and the Food and Drink Federation argued that reformulation to reduce sugar takes time and more progress will follow, but there are signs the government may not be willing to wait.
Public health minister Steve Brine said: “We are monitoring progress closely and have not ruled out taking further action.”
The stats show that biscuits, chocolate confectionery, ice creams, puddings and sweet confectionery all failed to meet the 5% reduction target. Only yoghurts and sweet spreads and sauces managed the voluntary reductions, while the sugar in the puddings category increased.
The scale of the convenience sector’s exposure to the government’s sugar clampdown was exposed by analysis by Retail Express showing 99 of the top 100 confectionery lines are hit by Public Health England’s 100 calorie cap on snacks.
Read more: How shoppers expected to react to the sugar levy