Tag Archives: England

Food industry in England fails to meet sugar reduction target

The food industry has failed to hit its target of cutting sugar by 5% over the past year, with experts describing the results as “hugely disappointing” and suggesting the government may be forced to introduce a tax, as with sugary drinks.

Public Health England had called for a cut of 20% of sugar in the products we buy to take home and eat in cafes by 2020, with 5% in the first year. In a massive new report, PHE shows food manufacturers and supermarkets have cut out 2% over the first 12 months, but much more has been achieved in some areas and by some companies than others.

Only three food groups of the eight measured have managed at least a 5% reduction: sweet spreads and sauces, yoghurts and fromage frais, and breakfast cereals. There has been no sugar reduction in biscuits and chocolate bars, although we consume less because they have become smaller. Puddings, meanwhile, have actually become sweeter.

While PHE applauded the industry’s efforts, some critics slammed them as inadequate. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) described the results in the first year as “hugely disappointing” and said the government would soon have no choice but to ditch the voluntary approach for mandatory targets.

“At best, this is industry being slow to react. At worst – and in reality – it seriously calls into question industry’s engagement with the voluntary approach,” said Prof Russell Viner, president of the RCPCH.

The Obesity Health Alliance also spoke of disappointment and called for a revamped obesity plan. “We have seen the success of the soft drinks industry levy in turbo-charging reformulation in sugary soft drinks,” said its lead, Caroline Cerny. “We also know that stronger marketing restrictions, including a 9pm watershed on TV, would help protect children from relentless exposure to junk food, and encourage manufacturers to make their foods healthier. Now is the time for the government to protect our children’s health with a truly world-leading obesity plan.”

Chocolate confectionery has a very long way to go. A Terry’s Chocolate Orange contains 58.5g of sugar per 100g. A Cadbury Crunchie contains 65g per 100g. Of the top 20 brands, only Nestlé’s Kit Kat Chunky has decreased in sugar (now at 52.7g per 100g) – by reducing the portion size and calorie count – and Cadbury’s Double Decker has actually gone up.

Among ice creams, Wall’s Cornettos and Magnums contain a bit less sugar, but its Soleros contain more. Starbucks has reformulated its chocolate brownies and carrot cake with less sugar. Tesco and Waitrose are among the supermarkets to cut the sugar in their own-brand breakfast cereals and so has Jordans, although Dorset muesli still has 23.4g of sugar and Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut contains 35.3g per 100g.

The puddings category, however, has failed to make progress. Ambrosia rice pudding, Mr Kipling sponge pudding and Nestlé Aero chilled mousse were all found to have increased in sugar content and/or calories.

Sugar

The detail of the report is designed to incentivise the food industry to do more and provide a baseline for measuring what it does over the coming years. PHE says next year’s report will give a clearer picture of the adequacy of the industry’s response.

Steve Brine, public health minister, hinted that the industry could be compelled to do more. “We lead the world in having the most stringent sugar reformulation targets and it is encouraging to see that some progress has been made in the first year,” he said.

“However, we do not underestimate the scale of the challenge we face. We are monitoring progress closely and have not ruled out taking further action.”

By contrast with the voluntary 5% sugar reduction in foods, the tough measure taken against sugary drinks in the form of the sugar tax is getting results. The PHE report said that sugar has been reduced by 11% in soft drinks and the average calories in single drink are down by 6%.

The data also shows that people are buying more drinks with less sugar – below the 5g per 100ml where the tax kicks in. That could be a result of publicity around high-sugar drinks or because of price.

Juice and milk-based drinks for children are now to be included in the PHE sugar-reduction programme, because they are not subject to the tax. PHE wants manufacturers and retailers to cut the sugar levels in juice-based drinks by 5% by 2021 and end sales of single drinks, including smoothies, larger than 150ml. Milk-based drinks should have 20% less sugar and no single drink should be larger than 300ml.

PHE’s chief executive, Duncan Selbie, said “tackling the obesity crisis needs the whole food industry to step up, in particular those businesses that have as yet taken little or no action”.

A quarter of children who start primary school are overweight or obese – and that rises to a third by the time they leave for secondary school at 11.

“This is about tackling the nation’s obesity crisis,” said Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE. “Too many children and adults suffer the effects of obesity, as does society, with our NHS under needless pressure. Obesity widens economic inequalities, affecting the poor the hardest.”

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said companies were engaging with what are sometimes difficult technical issues.

“As PHE correctly point out, reformulation takes time – it can’t happen overnight,” said Tim Rycroft, director of corporate affairs. “Sugar reduction has considerable technical challenges; sugar plays a variety of roles beyond sweetness in food including colour, texture and consistency. It is for these reasons that we have long said that the guidelines are ambitious and will not be met across all categories or in the timescale outlined.

“Obesity poses a huge public health challenge in the UK, and food and drink companies are well aware of their role in addressing this issue. For the last decade the UK’s food and drink companies have been reformulating their products to reduce sugar, calories, fat and salt, as well as limiting portion sizes. In fact, over the last five years FDF members have reduced calorie content in the average basket by 5.5%, and sugar content by 12.1% – and there is more work in the pipeline.”

He also called for cafes and restaurants to do more. “In many categories, the calorie content per portion of food served in cafes, coffee shops and restaurants is almost double that of manufacturers and retailers,” he said. “This is at a time when 25% of total calorie consumption takes place outside the home.”

Food industry in England fails to meet sugar reduction target

The sugar the nation consumes in its yoghurts and breakfast cereals has been cut by 5% in the last year – but there has been no sugar reduction in biscuits and chocolate bars, although we consume less because they have become smaller. Puddings, meanwhile, have actually become sweeter, Public Health England has revealed.

PHE’s progress check on the food industry’s efforts to cut the sugar in what we eat and drink to tackle child obesity shows a mixed picture. While PHE applauds the industry’s efforts, some critics slammed them as inadequate. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) described the results as “hugely disappointing” and said the government would soon have no choice but to ditch the voluntary approach for mandatory targets.

PHE has called for a cut of 20% of sugar in the products we buy to take home and eat in cafes by 2020, with 5% in the first year. The massive report PHE has now published shows food manufacturers and supermarkets have cut out 2% over the first 12 months, with much more achieved in some areas and by some companies than others.

Only three food groups of the eight measured have managed at least a 5% reduction: sweet spreads and sauces, yoghurts and fromage frais, and breakfast cereals. “At best, this is industry being slow to react. At worst – and in reality – it seriously calls into question industry’s engagement with the voluntary approach,” said Prof Russell Viner, president of the RCPCH.

The Obesity Health Alliance also spoke of disappointment and called for a revamped obesity plan. “We have seen the success of the soft drinks industry levy in turbo-charging reformulation in sugary soft drinks,” said its lead, Caroline Cerny. “We also know that stronger marketing restrictions, including a 9pm watershed on TV, would help protect children from relentless exposure to junk food, and encourage manufacturers to make their foods healthier. Now is the time for the government to protect our children’s health with a truly world-leading obesity plan.”

Chocolate confectionery has a very long way to go. A Terry’s Chocolate Orange contains 58.5g of sugar per 100g. A Cadbury Crunchie contains 65g per 100g. Of the top 20 brands, only Nestlé’s Kit Kat Chunky has decreased in sugar (now at 52.7g per 100g) – by reducing the portion size and calorie count – and Cadbury’s Double Decker has actually gone up.

Among ice creams, Wall’s Cornettos and Magnums contain a bit less sugar, but its Soleros contain more. Starbucks has reformulated its chocolate brownies and carrot cake with less sugar. Tesco and Waitrose are among the supermarkets to cut the sugar in their own-brand breakfast cereals and so has Jordans, although Dorset muesli still has 23.4g of sugar and Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut contains 35.3g per 100g.

The puddings category, however, has failed to make progress. Ambrosia rice pudding, Mr Kipling sponge pudding and Nestlé Aero chilled mousse have all increased in sugar content and/or calories.

Sugar

The detail of the report is designed to incentivise the food industry to do more and provide a baseline for measuring what it does over the coming years. PHE says next year’s report will give a clearer picture of the adequacy of the industry’s response.

Steve Brine, public health minister, hinted that the industry could be compelled to do more. “We lead the world in having the most stringent sugar reformulation targets and it is encouraging to see that some progress has been made in the first year,” he said.

“However, we do not underestimate the scale of the challenge we face. We are monitoring progress closely and have not ruled out taking further action.”

PHE’s chief executive, Duncan Selbie, said “tackling the obesity crisis needs the whole food industry to step up, in particular those businesses that have as yet taken little or no action”.

A quarter of children who start primary school are overweight or obese – and that rises to a third by the time they leave for secondary school at 11.

“This is about tackling the nation’s obesity crisis,” said Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE. “Too many children and adults suffer the effects of obesity, as does society, with our NHS under needless pressure. Obesity widens economic inequalities, affecting the poor the hardest.”

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said companies were engaging with what are sometimes difficult technical issues.

“As PHE correctly point out, reformulation takes time – it can’t happen overnight,” said Tim Rycroft, director of corporate affairs. “Sugar reduction has considerable technical challenges; sugar plays a variety of roles beyond sweetness in food including colour, texture and consistency. It is for these reasons that we have long said that the guidelines are ambitious and will not be met across all categories or in the timescale outlined.

“Obesity poses a huge public health challenge in the UK, and food and drink companies are well aware of their role in addressing this issue. For the last decade the UK’s food and drink companies have been reformulating their products to reduce sugar, calories, fat and salt, as well as limiting portion sizes. In fact, over the last five years FDF members have reduced calorie content in the average basket by 5.5%, and sugar content by 12.1% – and there is more work in the pipeline.”

He also called for cafes and restaurants to do more. “In many categories, the calorie content per portion of food served in cafes, coffee shops and restaurants is almost double that of manufacturers and retailers,” he said. “This is at a time when 25% of total calorie consumption takes place outside the home.”

Food industry in England fails to meet sugar reduction target

The sugar the nation consumes in its yoghurts and breakfast cereals has been cut by 5% in the last year – but there has been no sugar reduction in biscuits and chocolate bars, although we consume less because they have got smaller. Puddings, meanwhile, have actually got sweeter, Public Health England has revealed.

PHE’s progress check on the food industry’s efforts to cut the sugar in what we eat and drink to tackle child obesity shows a mixed picture. While PHE applauds the industry’s efforts, some critics slammed them as inadequate. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) described the results as “hugely disappointing” and said the government would soon have no choice but to ditch the voluntary approach for mandatory targets.

PHE has called for a cut of 20% of sugar in the products we buy to take home and eat in cafes by 2020, with 5% in the first year. The massive report PHE has now published shows food manufacturers and supermarkets have cut out 2% over the first 12 months, with much more achieved in some areas and by some companies than others.

Only three food groups of the eight measured have managed at least a 5% reduction: sweet spreads and sauces, yoghurts and fromage frais, and breakfast cereals. “At best, this is industry being slow to react. At worst – and in reality – it seriously calls into question industry’s engagement with the voluntary approach,” said Prof Russell Viner, president of the RCPCH.

The Obesity Health Alliance also spoke of disappointment and called for a revamped obesity plan. “We have seen the success of the soft drinks industry levy in turbo-charging reformulation in sugary soft drinks,” said its lead, Caroline Cerny. “We also know that stronger marketing restrictions, including a 9pm watershed on TV, would help protect children from relentless exposure to junk food, and encourage manufacturers to make their foods healthier. Now is the time for the government to protect our children’s health with a truly world-leading obesity plan.”

Chocolate confectionery has a very long way to go. A Terry’s chocolate orange contains 58.5g of sugar per 100g. A Cadbury Crunchie contains 65g per 100g. Of the top 20 brands, only Nestlé’s Kit Kat Chunky has decreased in sugar (now at 52.7g per 100g) – by reducing the portion size and calorie count – and Cadbury’s Double Decker has actually gone up.

Among ice creams, Wall’s Cornettos and Magnums contain a bit less sugar, but its Soleros contain more. Starbucks has reformulated its chocolate brownies and carrot cake with less sugar. Tesco and Waitrose are among the supermarkets to cut the sugar in their own-brand breakfast cereals and so has Jordans, although Dorset muesli still has 23.4g of sugar and Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut contains 35.3g per 100g.

The puddings category, however, has failed to make progress. Ambrosia rice pudding, Mr Kipling sponge pudding and Nestlé Aero chilled mousse have all increased in sugar content and/or calories.

Sugar

The detail of the report is designed to incentivise the food industry to do more and provide a baseline for measuring what it does over the coming years. PHE says next year’s report will give a clearer picture of the adequacy of the industry’s response.

Steve Brine, public health minister, hinted that the industry could be compelled to do more. “We lead the world in having the most stringent sugar reformulation targets and it is encouraging to see that some progress has been made in the first year,” he said.

“However, we do not underestimate the scale of the challenge we face. We are monitoring progress closely and have not ruled out taking further action.”

PHE’s chief executive, Duncan Selbie, said “tackling the obesity crisis needs the whole food industry to step up, in particular those businesses that have as yet taken little or no action”.

A quarter of children who start primary school are overweight or obese – and that rises to a third by the time they leave for secondary school at 11.

“This is about tackling the nation’s obesity crisis,” said Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE. “Too many children and adults suffer the effects of obesity, as does society, with our NHS under needless pressure. Obesity widens economic inequalities, affecting the poor the hardest.”

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said companies were engaging with what are sometimes difficult technical issues.

“As PHE correctly point out, reformulation takes time – it can’t happen overnight,” said Tim Rycroft, director of corporate affairs. “Sugar reduction has considerable technical challenges; sugar plays a variety of roles beyond sweetness in food including colour, texture and consistency. It is for these reasons that we have long said that the guidelines are ambitious and will not be met across all categories or in the timescale outlined.

“Obesity poses a huge public health challenge in the UK, and food and drink companies are well aware of their role in addressing this issue. For the last decade the UK’s food and drink companies have been reformulating their products to reduce sugar, calories, fat and salt, as well as limiting portion sizes. In fact, over the last five years FDF members have reduced calorie content in the average basket by 5.5%, and sugar content by 12.1% – and there is more work in the pipeline.”

He also called for cafes and restaurants to do more. “In many categories, the calorie content per portion of food served in cafes, coffee shops and restaurants is almost double that of manufacturers and retailers,” he said. “This is at a time when 25% of total calorie consumption takes place outside the home.”

Barristers in England and Wales ‘in grip of mental health crisis’

Criminal barristers are in the grip of a mental health crisis caused by significant increases in the amount of digital evidence, the number of historical sexual assault cases and long hours, the body that represents them has said.

Changes to the legal system, including to the fee structure and proposals to extend court hours, were likely to further damage a profession already struggling to cope, according to the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), which represents members of the bar in England and Wales.

Data due to be published by the Bar Council and shared with the Guardian reveals that in the past two years workloads have increased for 40% of criminal law practitioners in England and Wales, while a third said they were considering new career options.

Nearly 60% of criminal bar staff surveyed said they were working more than 51 hours a week; of those nearly half were working more than 60 hours. Only half of the 1,346 barristers questioned said they felt able to balance their home and work lives.

A spokesperson for the Bar Council said: “A preliminary analysis of the raw data from our survey suggests life at the criminal bar is challenging, with barristers in criminal practice recording some of the longest working hours, highest workload and greatest levels of dissatisfaction with their working lives.

“This is a cause for concern and is why we are campaigning for a better-funded system of justice.”

Sarah Vine, a practising barrister who was appointed last year as the first wellbeing director at the CBA, said: “There is a mental health crisis in the profession and it is so insidious.”

Many criminal barristers were feeling “completely despondent and overwhelmed”, she said.

“I spoke to someone the other day who said in the last fortnight she’d done two all-nighters. That is two nights without any sleep at all and nobody bats an eyelid.

“But that’s incredibly dangerous for your mental health. It’s absurd and mistakes are bound to happen as a result.”

The CBA launched a 24-hour helpline in December.

Vine said many of her colleagues had reported that their concerns were being ignored.

“At the bar there is this fetishisation of overwork and the government exploits that. They must think: ‘Brilliant, here are a bunch of people who get their self-worth not from how much money they earn, but from how busy and close to a nervous breakdown they are.’”

Vine said the rise in the number of historical sexual abuse cases had an impact on lawyers both prosecuting and defending lawyers.

Self-employed barristers with a tendency to take on whatever work came their way could end up handling back-to-back cases involving allegations of a serious sexual nature for months.

“It has nothing to do with whether the allegation is true or not – just listening to that stuff day in, day out impacts on your mental health,” Vine said.

Gender representation is evenly split at entry level, the data shows, but a disproportionate number of women quit the bar in later years. The average age of those practising is also rising.

An anonymous blogger known as the Secret Barrister said cuts to legal aid cuts were a major problem. “Initially you can be bringing home less than the minimum wage. This is leading to a succession crisis in criminal law. Increasingly, only those who can afford to supplement their income are joining.

“It affects representation by income and social class, but in crime we are also seeing a huge flood of female practitioners leaving the bar after five or 10 years because the conditions are so family unfriendly.”

Becky Owen, a successful barrister, resigned in March. “For me, it was the conditions, the sheer volume of work and the complete lack of respect for me as a human being,” she said.

“I got sick of arriving home dehydrated, starving and having not had time to go to the loo. It takes its toll.”

The 43-year-old blamed a lack of funding and support. “There aren’t many people who have to watch videos of two-year-old boys being raped before going home to sleep – and at times for less than the minimum wage.

“That’s what we are being asked to deal with, yet the profession attracts no sympathy because it is assumed we make a lot of money. I think in 20 years’ time we’ll look back and recognise this as the point when miscarriages of justices started happening.”

Barristers in England and Wales ‘in grip of mental health crisis’

Criminal barristers are in the grip of a mental health crisis caused by significant increases in the amount of digital evidence, the number of historical sexual assault cases and long hours, the body that represents them has said.

Changes to the legal system, including to the fee structure and proposals to extend court hours, were likely to further damage a profession already struggling to cope, according to the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), which represents members of the bar in England and Wales.

Data due to be published by the Bar Council and shared with the Guardian reveals that in the past two years workloads have increased for 40% of criminal law practitioners in England and Wales, while a third said they were considering new career options.

Nearly 60% of criminal bar staff surveyed said they were working more than 51 hours a week; of those nearly half were working more than 60 hours. Only half of the 1,346 barristers questioned said they felt able to balance their home and work lives.

A spokesperson for the Bar Council said: “A preliminary analysis of the raw data from our survey suggests life at the criminal bar is challenging, with barristers in criminal practice recording some of the longest working hours, highest workload and greatest levels of dissatisfaction with their working lives.

“This is a cause for concern and is why we are campaigning for a better-funded system of justice.”

Sarah Vine, a practising barrister who was appointed last year as the first wellbeing director at the CBA, said: “There is a mental health crisis in the profession and it is so insidious.”

Many criminal barristers were feeling “completely despondent and overwhelmed”, she said.

“I spoke to someone the other day who said in the last fortnight she’d done two all-nighters. That is two nights without any sleep at all and nobody bats an eyelid.

“But that’s incredibly dangerous for your mental health. It’s absurd and mistakes are bound to happen as a result.”

The CBA launched a 24-hour helpline in December.

Vine said many of her colleagues had reported that their concerns were being ignored.

“At the bar there is this fetishisation of overwork and the government exploits that. They must think: ‘Brilliant, here are a bunch of people who get their self-worth not from how much money they earn, but from how busy and close to a nervous breakdown they are.’”

Vine said the rise in the number of historical sexual abuse cases had an impact on lawyers both prosecuting and defending lawyers.

Self-employed barristers with a tendency to take on whatever work came their way could end up handling back-to-back cases involving allegations of a serious sexual nature for months.

“It has nothing to do with whether the allegation is true or not – just listening to that stuff day in, day out impacts on your mental health,” Vine said.

Gender representation is evenly split at entry level, the data shows, but a disproportionate number of women quit the bar in later years. The average age of those practising is also rising.

An anonymous blogger known as the Secret Barrister said cuts to legal aid cuts were a major problem. “Initially you can be bringing home less than the minimum wage. This is leading to a succession crisis in criminal law. Increasingly, only those who can afford to supplement their income are joining.

“It affects representation by income and social class, but in crime we are also seeing a huge flood of female practitioners leaving the bar after five or 10 years because the conditions are so family unfriendly.”

Becky Owen, a successful barrister, resigned in March. “For me, it was the conditions, the sheer volume of work and the complete lack of respect for me as a human being,” she said.

“I got sick of arriving home dehydrated, starving and having not had time to go to the loo. It takes its toll.”

The 43-year-old blamed a lack of funding and support. “There aren’t many people who have to watch videos of two-year-old boys being raped before going home to sleep – and at times for less than the minimum wage.

“That’s what we are being asked to deal with, yet the profession attracts no sympathy because it is assumed we make a lot of money. I think in 20 years’ time we’ll look back and recognise this as the point when miscarriages of justices started happening.”

Barristers in England and Wales ‘in grip of mental health crisis’

Criminal barristers are in the grip of a mental health crisis caused by significant increases in the amount of digital evidence, the number of historical sexual assault cases and long hours, the body that represents them has said.

Changes to the legal system, including to the fee structure and proposals to extend court hours, were likely to further damage a profession already struggling to cope, according to the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), which represents members of the bar in England and Wales.

Data due to be published by the Bar Council and shared with the Guardian reveals that in the past two years workloads have increased for 40% of criminal law practitioners in England and Wales, while a third said they were considering new career options.

Nearly 60% of criminal bar staff surveyed said they were working more than 51 hours a week; of those nearly half were working more than 60 hours. Only half of the 1,346 barristers questioned said they felt able to balance their home and work lives.

A spokesperson for the Bar Council said: “A preliminary analysis of the raw data from our survey suggests life at the criminal bar is challenging, with barristers in criminal practice recording some of the longest working hours, highest workload and greatest levels of dissatisfaction with their working lives.

“This is a cause for concern and is why we are campaigning for a better-funded system of justice.”

Sarah Vine, a practising barrister who was appointed last year as the first wellbeing director at the CBA, said: “There is a mental health crisis in the profession and it is so insidious.”

Many criminal barristers were feeling “completely despondent and overwhelmed”, she said.

“I spoke to someone the other day who said in the last fortnight she’d done two all-nighters. That is two nights without any sleep at all and nobody bats an eyelid.

“But that’s incredibly dangerous for your mental health. It’s absurd and mistakes are bound to happen as a result.”

The CBA launched a 24-hour helpline in December.

Vine said many of her colleagues had reported that their concerns were being ignored.

“At the bar there is this fetishisation of overwork and the government exploits that. They must think: ‘Brilliant, here are a bunch of people who get their self-worth not from how much money they earn, but from how busy and close to a nervous breakdown they are.’”

Vine said the rise in the number of historical sexual abuse cases had an impact on lawyers both prosecuting and defending lawyers.

Self-employed barristers with a tendency to take on whatever work came their way could end up handling back-to-back cases involving allegations of a serious sexual nature for months.

“It has nothing to do with whether the allegation is true or not – just listening to that stuff day in, day out impacts on your mental health,” Vine said.

Gender representation is evenly split at entry level, the data shows, but a disproportionate number of women quit the bar in later years. The average age of those practising is also rising.

An anonymous blogger known as the Secret Barrister said cuts to legal aid cuts were a major problem. “Initially you can be bringing home less than the minimum wage. This is leading to a succession crisis in criminal law. Increasingly, only those who can afford to supplement their income are joining.

“It affects representation by income and social class, but in crime we are also seeing a huge flood of female practitioners leaving the bar after five or 10 years because the conditions are so family unfriendly.”

Becky Owen, a successful barrister, resigned in March. “For me, it was the conditions, the sheer volume of work and the complete lack of respect for me as a human being,” she said.

“I got sick of arriving home dehydrated, starving and having not had time to go to the loo. It takes its toll.”

The 43-year-old blamed a lack of funding and support. “There aren’t many people who have to watch videos of two-year-old boys being raped before going home to sleep – and at times for less than the minimum wage.

“That’s what we are being asked to deal with, yet the profession attracts no sympathy because it is assumed we make a lot of money. I think in 20 years’ time we’ll look back and recognise this as the point when miscarriages of justices started happening.”

Child mortality rate ’50% higher in England than in Sweden’

Deaths in children under five occur 50% more often in England than in Sweden, a study has found.

If the child mortality rate had been the same in England as in Sweden during the 10-year period analysed, more than 600 fewer children would have died per year, researchers said.

The UK has one of the highest child mortality rates in western Europe, because although it has a similar level of economic development and healthcare to Sweden, the UK’s more unequal wealth distribution leads to poorer maternal health during pregnancy.

This causes more babies to be born prematurely and with a low birth weight, researchers from the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health said. Children born in England also tend to have more birth anomalies – such as congenital heart defects – than in Sweden.

The study, published in the Lancet, used medical data from the NHS and the Swedish health service to compare births from 2003 to 2012 and track the children’s health and death records up to their fifth birthday.

These records included information on the mother’s age, the family’s socioeconomic position, the length of pregnancy, the child’s birth weight and gender, and whether the child had any birth anomalies.

Overall, the study included more than 3.9 million English births, with 11,392 deaths, and more than a million Swedish births and 1,927 deaths.

Between two days and four years old, the child mortality rate for England was one and a half times higher than for Sweden (29 deaths per 10,000 children in England, compared with 19 in Sweden). If the child mortality rate had been the same, there would have been 607 fewer child deaths per year in England, equivalent to 6,073 in total over the period.

The differences were mainly driven by differences in mortality among children under one.

Lead author Dr Ania Zylbersztejn of UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health said: “While child deaths are still rare, the UK has one of the highest child mortality rates in western Europe.

“Babies born prematurely or with low birth weight have an increased risk of early death, and those who survive are more likely to have chronic ill-health or disability.”

The higher frequency of adverse birth characteristics such as low birth weight, pre-term birth or congenital anomalies in England were the main reasons for the excess risk of death compared to Sweden, accounting for 77% of the excess risk for newborns and 68% for those under the age of one.

Socioeconomic factors explained a further 3% of excess risk in newborns, and 11% in those under the age of one. Combined, they said, these factors fully explained the difference in survival for under-fives in England and Sweden.

Good maternal health – including maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding chronic illnesses such as diabetes and avoiding high blood pressure, psychological stress and infections – and healthy behaviours such as eating a balanced diet and avoiding smoking, drugs and alcohol are associated with healthy foetal development during pregnancy.

The UK has one of the most unequal distributions of wealth of all western countries. From 2003 to 2005, the most deprived 20% of the UK’s population had a sevenfold lower income than the least deprived 20%, while the gap in Sweden was only four times.

This suggests many more people in England are socioeconomically disadvantaged, which is associated with pre-term births, low birth weight, birth anomalies and poor maternal health, reflecting circumstances and behaviours linked to poverty and stress.

Prof Anders Hjern of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute said: “This study shows that the main explanations for the differences in child mortality rates between England and Sweden are systemic, and beyond the reach of healthcare services alone.

“The key factors here are likely to include Sweden’s broader welfare programmes that have provided families with an economic safety net for over 50 years, the free and accessible educational system, including early childcare, and public health policies for many lifestyle issues such as obesity, smoking and alcohol use.”

  • This article was amended on 4 May 2018. The headline and first paragraph of an earlier version said incorrectly that child mortality was one and a half times higher in England than in Sweden.

Child mortality rate ’50% higher in England than in Sweden’

Deaths in children under five occur 50% more often in England than in Sweden, a study has found.

If the child mortality rate had been the same in England as in Sweden during the 10-year period analysed, more than 600 fewer children would have died per year, researchers said.

The UK has one of the highest child mortality rates in western Europe, because although it has a similar level of economic development and healthcare to Sweden, the UK’s more unequal wealth distribution leads to poorer maternal health during pregnancy.

This causes more babies to be born prematurely and with a low birth weight, researchers from the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health said. Children born in England also tend to have more birth anomalies – such as congenital heart defects – than in Sweden.

The study, published in the Lancet, used medical data from the NHS and the Swedish health service to compare births from 2003 to 2012 and track the children’s health and death records up to their fifth birthday.

These records included information on the mother’s age, the family’s socioeconomic position, the length of pregnancy, the child’s birth weight and gender, and whether the child had any birth anomalies.

Overall, the study included more than 3.9 million English births, with 11,392 deaths, and more than a million Swedish births and 1,927 deaths.

Between two days and four years old, the child mortality rate for England was one and a half times higher than for Sweden (29 deaths per 10,000 children in England, compared with 19 in Sweden). If the child mortality rate had been the same, there would have been 607 fewer child deaths per year in England, equivalent to 6,073 in total over the period.

The differences were mainly driven by differences in mortality among children under one.

Lead author Dr Ania Zylbersztejn of UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health said: “While child deaths are still rare, the UK has one of the highest child mortality rates in western Europe.

“Babies born prematurely or with low birth weight have an increased risk of early death, and those who survive are more likely to have chronic ill-health or disability.”

The higher frequency of adverse birth characteristics such as low birth weight, pre-term birth or congenital anomalies in England were the main reasons for the excess risk of death compared to Sweden, accounting for 77% of the excess risk for newborns and 68% for those under the age of one.

Socioeconomic factors explained a further 3% of excess risk in newborns, and 11% in those under the age of one. Combined, they said, these factors fully explained the difference in survival for under-fives in England and Sweden.

Good maternal health – including maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding chronic illnesses such as diabetes and avoiding high blood pressure, psychological stress and infections – and healthy behaviours such as eating a balanced diet and avoiding smoking, drugs and alcohol are associated with healthy foetal development during pregnancy.

The UK has one of the most unequal distributions of wealth of all western countries. From 2003 to 2005, the most deprived 20% of the UK’s population had a sevenfold lower income than the least deprived 20%, while the gap in Sweden was only four times.

This suggests many more people in England are socioeconomically disadvantaged, which is associated with pre-term births, low birth weight, birth anomalies and poor maternal health, reflecting circumstances and behaviours linked to poverty and stress.

Prof Anders Hjern of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute said: “This study shows that the main explanations for the differences in child mortality rates between England and Sweden are systemic, and beyond the reach of healthcare services alone.

“The key factors here are likely to include Sweden’s broader welfare programmes that have provided families with an economic safety net for over 50 years, the free and accessible educational system, including early childcare, and public health policies for many lifestyle issues such as obesity, smoking and alcohol use.”

  • This article was amended on 4 May 2018. The headline and first paragraph of an earlier version said incorrectly that child mortality was one and a half times higher in England than in Sweden.

Child mortality rate ’50% higher in England than in Sweden’

Deaths in children under five occur 50% more often in England than in Sweden, a study has found.

If the child mortality rate had been the same in England as in Sweden during the 10-year period analysed, more than 600 fewer children would have died per year, researchers said.

The UK has one of the highest child mortality rates in western Europe, because although it has a similar level of economic development and healthcare to Sweden, the UK’s more unequal wealth distribution leads to poorer maternal health during pregnancy.

This causes more babies to be born prematurely and with a low birth weight, researchers from the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health said. Children born in England also tend to have more birth anomalies – such as congenital heart defects – than in Sweden.

The study, published in the Lancet, used medical data from the NHS and the Swedish health service to compare births from 2003 to 2012 and track the children’s health and death records up to their fifth birthday.

These records included information on the mother’s age, the family’s socioeconomic position, the length of pregnancy, the child’s birth weight and gender, and whether the child had any birth anomalies.

Overall, the study included more than 3.9 million English births, with 11,392 deaths, and more than a million Swedish births and 1,927 deaths.

Between two days and four years old, the child mortality rate for England was one and a half times higher than for Sweden (29 deaths per 10,000 children in England, compared with 19 in Sweden). If the child mortality rate had been the same, there would have been 607 fewer child deaths per year in England, equivalent to 6,073 in total over the period.

The differences were mainly driven by differences in mortality among children under one.

Lead author Dr Ania Zylbersztejn of UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health said: “While child deaths are still rare, the UK has one of the highest child mortality rates in western Europe.

“Babies born prematurely or with low birth weight have an increased risk of early death, and those who survive are more likely to have chronic ill-health or disability.”

The higher frequency of adverse birth characteristics such as low birth weight, pre-term birth or congenital anomalies in England were the main reasons for the excess risk of death compared to Sweden, accounting for 77% of the excess risk for newborns and 68% for those under the age of one.

Socioeconomic factors explained a further 3% of excess risk in newborns, and 11% in those under the age of one. Combined, they said, these factors fully explained the difference in survival for under-fives in England and Sweden.

Good maternal health – including maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding chronic illnesses such as diabetes and avoiding high blood pressure, psychological stress and infections – and healthy behaviours such as eating a balanced diet and avoiding smoking, drugs and alcohol are associated with healthy foetal development during pregnancy.

The UK has one of the most unequal distributions of wealth of all western countries. From 2003 to 2005, the most deprived 20% of the UK’s population had a sevenfold lower income than the least deprived 20%, while the gap in Sweden was only four times.

This suggests many more people in England are socioeconomically disadvantaged, which is associated with pre-term births, low birth weight, birth anomalies and poor maternal health, reflecting circumstances and behaviours linked to poverty and stress.

Prof Anders Hjern of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute said: “This study shows that the main explanations for the differences in child mortality rates between England and Sweden are systemic, and beyond the reach of healthcare services alone.

“The key factors here are likely to include Sweden’s broader welfare programmes that have provided families with an economic safety net for over 50 years, the free and accessible educational system, including early childcare, and public health policies for many lifestyle issues such as obesity, smoking and alcohol use.”

  • This article was amended on 4 May 2018. The headline and first paragraph of an earlier version said incorrectly that child mortality was one and a half times higher in England than in Sweden.

Child mortality rate ’50% higher in England than in Sweden’

Deaths in children under five occur 50% more often in England than in Sweden, a study has found.

If the child mortality rate had been the same in England as in Sweden during the 10-year period analysed, more than 600 fewer children would have died per year, researchers said.

The UK has one of the highest child mortality rates in western Europe, because although it has a similar level of economic development and healthcare to Sweden, the UK’s more unequal wealth distribution leads to poorer maternal health during pregnancy.

This causes more babies to be born prematurely and with a low birth weight, researchers from the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health said. Children born in England also tend to have more birth anomalies – such as congenital heart defects – than in Sweden.

The study, published in the Lancet, used medical data from the NHS and the Swedish health service to compare births from 2003 to 2012 and track the children’s health and death records up to their fifth birthday.

These records included information on the mother’s age, the family’s socioeconomic position, the length of pregnancy, the child’s birth weight and gender, and whether the child had any birth anomalies.

Overall, the study included more than 3.9 million English births, with 11,392 deaths, and more than a million Swedish births and 1,927 deaths.

Between two days and four years old, the child mortality rate for England was one and a half times higher than for Sweden (29 deaths per 10,000 children in England, compared with 19 in Sweden). If the child mortality rate had been the same, there would have been 607 fewer child deaths per year in England, equivalent to 6,073 in total over the period.

The differences were mainly driven by differences in mortality among children under one.

Lead author Dr Ania Zylbersztejn of UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health said: “While child deaths are still rare, the UK has one of the highest child mortality rates in western Europe.

“Babies born prematurely or with low birth weight have an increased risk of early death, and those who survive are more likely to have chronic ill-health or disability.”

The higher frequency of adverse birth characteristics such as low birth weight, pre-term birth or congenital anomalies in England were the main reasons for the excess risk of death compared to Sweden, accounting for 77% of the excess risk for newborns and 68% for those under the age of one.

Socioeconomic factors explained a further 3% of excess risk in newborns, and 11% in those under the age of one. Combined, they said, these factors fully explained the difference in survival for under-fives in England and Sweden.

Good maternal health – including maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding chronic illnesses such as diabetes and avoiding high blood pressure, psychological stress and infections – and healthy behaviours such as eating a balanced diet and avoiding smoking, drugs and alcohol are associated with healthy foetal development during pregnancy.

The UK has one of the most unequal distributions of wealth of all western countries. From 2003 to 2005, the most deprived 20% of the UK’s population had a sevenfold lower income than the least deprived 20%, while the gap in Sweden was only four times.

This suggests many more people in England are socioeconomically disadvantaged, which is associated with pre-term births, low birth weight, birth anomalies and poor maternal health, reflecting circumstances and behaviours linked to poverty and stress.

Prof Anders Hjern of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute said: “This study shows that the main explanations for the differences in child mortality rates between England and Sweden are systemic, and beyond the reach of healthcare services alone.

“The key factors here are likely to include Sweden’s broader welfare programmes that have provided families with an economic safety net for over 50 years, the free and accessible educational system, including early childcare, and public health policies for many lifestyle issues such as obesity, smoking and alcohol use.”

  • This article was amended on 4 May 2018. The headline and first paragraph of an earlier version said incorrectly that child mortality was one and a half times higher in England than in Sweden.