Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

A Joint memorandum by Cadbury Schweppes and Cadbury Trebor Bassett (OB 41)


  1.  We welcome the Health Select Committee's inquiry into obesity and are pleased to submit a response.

  2.  Our submission does not address all areas of the Committee's Inquiry because:

    —  Others with greater expertise in specific areas will be submitting evidence.

    —  We wished to avoid unnecessary duplication of the submissions of our trade associations[1] which we fully endorse.

  3.  We have limited our comments to those areas where we feel we can add particular value to the committee's considerations. In addition, whilst Cadbury Schweppes is a manufacturer of both beverages and confectionery[2] we no longer have a soft drinks business in the UK[3] so we have illustrated most of our comments with perspectives from our UK business (confectionery).

Key points

  4.  In assessing our own response to the issue we were struck by the fact that whilst obesity is rising, calorie intake is falling. The explanation for this apparent paradox seems to lie in the fact that activity levels have also declined sharply.

  5.  Activity is the most variable component of the "obesity equation" and, we believe, the easiest to influence. In addition it also has wider health and social benefits, particularly for young people.

  6.  This has led us to focus much of our efforts on encouraging activity, notably the development of the Get Active programme with the Youth Sport Trust.

  7.  In addition we are:

    —  Reviewing our product range including delivering them in a variety of sizes and formats.

    —  Supporting the 5 A Day message.

    —  Trying to help consumers make informed choices about their overall diet.

  8.  Clearly there is a limit to what a single company can do. However, we are seeking to play our part.


Our heritage and tradition

  9.  Cadbury Schweppes is an industry leader with a strong heritage of social responsibility. For over 200 years we have been successful because we have understood the needs of our consumers, customers and colleagues and operated to a clearly defined set of values.

  10.  These values have allowed us to earn our good reputation and build brands that people love. Our UK business, Cadbury Trebor Bassett (CTB), manufactures some of the nation's favourite confectionery brands which have been enjoyed by generations. They include Bassett's Liquorice Allsorts (1899), Cadbury Dairy Milk (1905), Maynard's Wine Gums (1909), Jelly Babies (1918), Flake (1920), Crunchie (1929) and Roses (1938).

  11.  We have always recognised that businesses do not operate in a vacuum and have wider obligations to society. Since the company's beginnings, Cadbury was known for its pioneering work. In creating the Bournville "factory-in-a-garden" in the 1800s, the Cadbury brothers introduced a groundbreaking social welfare programme which included the building of houses for their workers, education and healthcare provision (with an on-site doctor and dentist) and recreation facilities such as cricket and football fields, gardens, sports clubs and a swimming pool.[4] We were the first company to give employees Saturday, as well as Sunday, off and established formal Works Councils with elected employee representatives in 1917.

Cadbury Schweppes today

  12.  We value that tradition. Cadbury Schweppes is now an international group, employing over 55,000 people (7,000 in the UK) and manufacturing a wide portfolio of products, which are available in over 200 countries. However, that clear sense of responsibility continues to play a central part in how we do business. Our Core Purpose is "working together to create brands people love" with the associated requirement that we not only approach issues in partnership, but seek to earn public trust, respect and loyalty.

  13.  Around us, the world has changed and the obligations of business to society have broadened. We recognise this and seek to ensure the continuation of our own heritage, addressing issues sensitively and in the spirit of good corporate citizenship.

  14.  We were one of the first companies to establish a Board Corporate and Social Responsibility committee and are members of the International Business Leaders Forum, Institute of Business Ethics and Centre for Tomorrow's Company.

Our activities in communities

  15.  We have won a number of awards for our work in the community including the Food and Drink Federation's Gold Award for the best Large Company in 2002-03. Our work in Hackney Education Action Zone has also received a Lord Mayor's Dragon Award. We are ranked ninth in The Guardian/Business in the Community Per Cent Club index of FTSE100 company contributions to communities with a UK contribution equivalent to 2.2% of our profit before tax. We were voted Most Admired Company for Community and Environmental Responsibility in the 2002 Management Today poll.

  16.  We believe in being actively involved in communities, as demonstrated by our emphasis on engaging the talent and energy of our people. Over 1,500 of our UK employees were involved in community activities in 2002, ranging from school governors to help with reading to action days which have transformed local community facilities. We focus our community investment on educational needs, and we were one of the first private sector supporters of Education Action Zones.


We need healthy consumers

  17. We rely upon having a society of fit, healthy consumers who can enjoy our brands as part of a balanced diet and lifestyle. By the very nature of our business we have a significant interest in addressing rising obesity levels.

We want to play our part

  18.  This is a serious problem for society and one which requires the combined energies of all parts of the community. As well as looking internally to see what part we can play, we have continued to talk with governments, pressure groups, consumers, parents, teachers and others about the nature of the role we can take. We are active participants in the WHO's current industry dialogue which aims to build consensus between governments and the private sector to tackle the rising levels of obesity and physical inactivity.

Our brands have the power to reach people

  19.  Our brands occupy a unique place in people's lives and many are powerful tools for reaching people because of their long heritage, the high levels of consumer trust that they enjoy and their strong association with seasonal and family occasions.

  20.  Two-thirds of all confectionery is bought for what marketers call "emotional needs", with our products fulfilling basic social needs to treat, celebrate, gift or reward. Consequently the most successful periods of trading also coincide with times of family bonding, such as Christmas and Easter.


  21.  The trend towards increased incidences of overweight and obesity are well documented and no doubt others with a greater expertise will provide the Select Committee with the relevant supporting data.


  22.  In assessing our own response to the issue we were struck by the fact that whilst obesity is rising, calorie intake is falling. The explanation for this apparent paradox seems to lie in the fact that activity levels have also declined and this has led us to focus much of our efforts on encouraging activity, notably with the development of the Get Active programme.

  23.  The detail of our approach is outlined below.

A simple equation of calorie intake = energy expenditure determines weight

  24.  Weight gain comes from an imbalance between calorific intake and energy expenditure. In order to gain weight a person's calorific intake must exceed their energy expenditure.

Calorific intake has not risen

  25.  The data shows that, contrary to popular opinion, the average per capita food calorific intake has in fact decreased (see chart).[5]

  26.  Even when the figures are adjusted to allow for meals consumed outside the home and for under-reporting of alcohol, confectionery and soft drinks the data shows that adults calorie intakes have dropped by 20% from 1970-90.[6]

Reduced intake is also true with children

  27.  A number of studies confirm that children's diets have been getting progressively lower in total calorific intake for decades, whilst obesity levels have been rising steadily for the same period (see graph).[7]

  28.  It is also worth noting here that 95% of confectionery is bought by adults.

The role of confectionery

  29.  Contrary to popular belief there is no evidence that shows that confectionery consumption is linked to rising obesity levels. As detailed in the BCCCA's submission to the Select Committee, international comparisons and analysis of dietary surveys show no link between consumption of biscuits, cake, chocolate and confectionery and obesity.

  30.  In addition, confectionery consumption has been flat. Our own industry's data shows that the UK confectionery market has seen no significant growth (below).

  31.  Indeed our own latest consumer research showed a slow decline in children's confectionery consumption from 1995-2002.

Decreased physical activity is the key

  32.  Given that diet has not significantly changed, we looked to the other side of the "energy in/energy out" equation. Here we found that there has been a significant decrease in physical activity.

People are less active

  33.  Less people are now engaged in physically arduous jobs. We can certainly see this in our own employee population; not only are there proportionally far fewer manufacturing operations to desk-based roles, but everyone's daily work requires much less physical activity due to increased mechanism of processes.

  34.  There is widespread use of cars and other forms of transport over walking, and most domestic situations are characterised by labour-saving devices. Leisure time is generally spent on sedentary activities.

Children are very inactive

  35.  This is particularly true for children who aside from having less activity at school are being driven to school (whether for reasons of convenience/time or safety), also occupy their leisure time with a whole range of new forms of sedentary activities such as playing computer games, surfing the web or watching TV.

  36.  There are a variety of factors at work:

    —  Sedentary lifestyles: one-quarter of all children undertake no vigorous activity. On average, children spend two-fifths hours per day in sedentary activities[8] and one-fifth of young people sit for five hours each day (excluding time spent at school).[9]

    —  Less walking: Only half of girls and 38% of boys aged 11-16 years walk continuously for 10 minutes on any day of the week.[10] The number of children being driven to school has increased four-fold since the 1970s. Less than half of all children walk to school, one-third are driven in cars and almost one-fifth travel on the bus. On average the walk to school takes just 10 minutes.[11]

    —  Less activity: Overall, of children spend less than half an hour each day in vigorous activities.[12] In the past 30 years activity in school has fallen by 70%. In the 1970s children received five hours of games lessons per week, in 2000 this was just 90 minutes per week.[13]

    —  More TV and computer games: Television viewing has more than doubled in the past 30 years to 26 hours per week.[14] The average UK person now spends 26 hours per week watching TV compared with just 13 hours in the 1960s. The previous Health Select Committee inquiry into public health (2001) reported in paragraph 191 that: "Active play amongst children is being superseded by time spent watching television or playing computer games. Nearly three quarters of 11-16 year olds watch television for two hours a day and 10% of children spend the same amount of time on the computer."

    —  Reduced PE in schools: The Committee also noted that "Schools in England allocated less time to PE than anywhere else in the EU according to the last survey which was conducted in 1994. Since then things have deteriorated: the percentage of children spending two or more hours per week on PE has fallen from 46% to 33%"

  The result is that physical activity levels are between 30-50% below government recommendations.[15]

Physical activity has other health, and also wider benefits

  37.  No doubt health and sport bodies will bring the wider health benefits associated with physical activity to the committee's attention.[16] It is also worth noting that activity has a range of wider psychological and social benefits, particularly for young people:

    —  Mental alertness and improved concentration levels, impacting upon academic performance.

    —  Raised self-confidence and social skills.

    —  Teamwork and the building of social networks.

    —  "Diversionary" activity from anti-social behaviour.

    —  Discourages smoking.

    —  Encourages healthy eating.

Physical activity is easiest to tackle

  38.  Physical activity is the easiest part of the "obesity equation" to influence as well as the most variable from person to person.

Diet and lifestyle needs to be managed by individuals and families

  39.  As previously mentioned, Cadbury Schweppes has a real interest in having a society of fit, healthy consumers who can enjoy our brands as part of a balanced diet and lifestyle.

  40.  We also recognise that what is right for one person is not right for another. Different consumers have different diets as well as different metabolisms and lifestyles. A physically active and growing 14 year old will have different needs to a sedentary 40 year old. Individuals and families must be able to take responsibility for balancing "calories in" with "energy out".

  41.  All this means that we need to equip consumers with the skills and information to manage their diet and lifestyle.

Education and consumer awareness

  42.  George Cadbury was probably one of the first proponents of the "5 A Day" message. Back in the 1800s few people had access to fresh goods so he ensured that both the Bournville factory and the workers' houses had gardens where employees could grow vegetables. He also made a particular point of providing fresh fruit in the factory dining halls and actively encouraged employees to eat it.

  43.  Today we can all readily choose from a huge range of fruit and vegetables, but we still need to be encouraged to consume them. Cadbury Schweppes provides healthy options in our staff canteens and are supporters of the UK Government's 5 A Day Campaign through the FDF's "Join the Activators" campaign[17] which we are promoting in schools (Appendix 1).

Consumer information and choice

  44.  We can help consumers make informed choices about the products that they consume by:

    —  Labelling our products clearly and in full compliance with local regulations.

    —  Delivering our products in a variety of sizes and formats so that consumers can choose the portion size that is right for them. For example all our children's range of Cadburyland products are less than 100k/cal as are our treat and fun size bars. Our packaging is designed in a way which allows the consumer to exercise portion control.

Promoting physical activity

  45.  Counting calories is not going to solve the obesity problem—we need people to get active. We decided our key contribution would be in finding a way to use the power of our brands and their long-standing connection to millions of consumers to encourage children (and their teachers and families) to understand, and adopt, a more healthy and active lifestyle.

  46.  We have long supported initiatives to promote physical activity. In fact, we started with our staff back in the 1800s setting up the Men's Athletic Club in 1896 and the Girl's Athletic Club in 1899. We still encourage our employees to be active, providing access to sports facilities and running an `Employee's Get Active' programme which incentivises them to raise money for charity through physical challenges—from abseiling off office blocks to running marathons.

  47.  In the community our work on the Manchester Commonwealth Games included raising the profile of the Games through a TEXT4Gold promotion, as well as organisation of the Queen's Jubilee Baton Relay which comprised hundreds of ordinary people running with the Commonwealth Baton in a relay across the country. We have also supported the British Heart Foundation's Walk for Life and the annual Strollathon.

  48.  The new innovative Get Active programme that we have developed with the Youth Sport Trust (YST)[18] takes this support to a new level.


(a)   The programme

  49.  There are five elements to the £9 million programme:

      1.  Resources and training for teachers: we are funding a primary and a secondary teaching programme to support the delivery of high quality physical education and sport. Resources providing training and lesson plans have been specially developed by the YST in conjunction with PE professionals, higher education institutions and national governing bodies of sport. They use game-based activities to focus on common skills needed for all kinds of sports—such as running techniques—rather than specific sports which can deter those who are not `natural' football or cricket players. This is a standalone donation and not linked to the wrapper collection element of the programme.

      2.  Free unbranded sports equipment: From May 2003, tokens will appear on product packs which families can collect for their local schools, who can exchange them for free specialist sports equipment—from stop watches and dumb bells to throwing games and skipping ropes.

  The range has been developed by the YST based on their understanding of what will get kids active. It is bright, funky and innovative, and includes equipment for children with special needs. The range is detailed in a catalogue and schools can pick what they want, thus ensuring that relevant kit gets to those schools who both need and will use it. It will not carry any Cadbury branding.

      3.  Get Active day on 8 June (the start of British Heart Week) marked by a free event at the NEC in Birmingham to celebrate all forms of youth activity. This will include a variety of activities including activity zones run by official sporting bodies, a music zone and a dance area.

    We would be delighted to invite the Select Committee to attend and observe the event as part of its considerations.

      4.  Employee action building on our award winning volunteering programme to talk to young people about the benefits of balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, including promotion of 5 A Day and school sports.

      5.  Creation of a new Get Active Fund to support disadvantaged children who wish to get active but face barriers to doing so.

(b)   Developed in consultation

  50.  We have not created this initiative on our own. We sought the advice of teachers and others about what we could and should do, and are responding to the WHO's challenge to business to find ways to use their brands to encourage activity.

  51.  We have worked closely with the YST, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Education and the Department of Health as well as with teachers, sports psychologists, educational experts parents and other stakeholders.[19]

(c)   Addressing stakeholder concerns

  52.  Significant aspects of the scheme are:

    —  There is no Cadbury branding on any of the sports equipment.

    —  Schools will not be selling our products as part of the scheme, they will simply be collecting tokens.

    —  The brands carrying tokens are not our children's range. It is aimed at extended families and communities rather than children.

    —  The redemption level is deliberately generous—15p in the £1. For example, if every pupil in an average-sized school of 250 pupils brought in just one token a week for 8 weeks the school would have enough tokens to claim a full set of equipment.

    —  Our measurement of its success is not linked to sales figures—it is linked to the amount of equipment that is claimed.

    —  The sports ambassadors (Paula Radcliffe, Audley Harrison) are not being used in advertising or to promote confectionery—they are being used to talk to children about how sport has impacted on their life.

  53.  We will continue to listen to stakeholder concerns, as well as the experience of the programme in action, to ensure we get the right combination of commercial benefit for the company and genuine social benefit.

(d)   Re-branding physical activity

  54.  Get Active seeks to re-market or re-brand physical activity which, in today's world, needs to compete for the attention of young people against sedentary leisure activities such as computer games and TV. It uses innovative teaching techniques and "trendy" equipment to help teachers get young people engaged and interested.

  55.  It is designed to spread the message at street level, and has particular elements aimed at the key audiences of:

    —  Young women—who can tend to use unhealthy dieting or smoking as forms of weight control.

    —  Disadvantaged groups such as ethnic minorities—who can see traditional school sports as "uncool" or something that is "not for them".

  56.  It capitalises on the reach of the Cadbury brand, which is one of the UK's most trusted, to involve parents, teachers and the wider community and help them understand the importance of encouraging activity. We are proud to have got this debate onto the public agenda.

(e)   What is in it for Cadbury?

  57.  Clearly we are a commercial enterprise. This partnership is in addition to our standard UK community contribution of 2.2% of pre tax profits and therefore does have some commercial objectives. These are:

    —  Growing our SHARE of the confectionery market but not overall confectionery CONSUMPTION. This scheme should not increase total sales of confectionery. We should see increased sales of Cadbury products, but this should be based on consumers SWITCHING from other confectionery brands in their normal confectionery consumption. This could either be because a consumer is collecting Get Active tokens or simply because we will have been allocated more point of sale space in stores than our competitors.

    —  Positive reinforcement of the Cadbury brand image.

(f)   Support for Get Active

  58.  Over 4,000 schools have registered their interest in the past month demonstrating support for the initiative at the grass roots.

  59.  Get Active has also been endorsed by Baroness Ashton, Education Minister and by Richard Caborn, Minister for Sport, who said:

    "We are all aware of the growing health problems facing our young people and we are eager to encourage more to get involved in sport and develop active lifestyles. I am delighted that Cadbury are prepared to support this drive to get more young people active... In partnership we could make a real difference to the quality of young people's lives."

  60.  Baroness Greengross, in her capacity as chair of the All-Party Corporate Social Responsibility Group, called it "a good example of a carefully crafted corporate social responsibility initiative".

  61.  Get Active is designed to be a long-term and sustainable education initiative, getting the whole community behind the need for young people to be more active. In year one we will measure its success by the level of interest that schools show, and by the amount of equipment that gets into the hands of young people. In year two we will be looking for clear indications that young people are more active.

  62.  We hope that the Committee will agree with these ambitions and acknowledge Get Active as a well-thought out and positive contribution.


  63.  We support the recommendations outlined in the submissions of our trade associations, but would add the following comments.

  64.  It is important to recognise that we are facing an extremely complex challenge. Shifting public behaviour is not a simple task. It will require governments and all other stakeholders to work together with a clear eye on achieving real results over the long term.

    —  There are no quick fixes or single solutions.

    —  It will need to be approached on the basis of science-based consideration of what will work rather than emotive/subjective views, and with a clear understanding of the actual impact—and indeed wider ramifications—of action taken.

    —  Targeted action which takes into account specific causal factors and is directed at high risk groups (rather than everyone) is more likely to be effective.

    —  Positive measures are more likely to be effective than negative messages (which can have a negligible or even counterproductive effect on consumer behaviour, especially young people).

  65.  There can be a tendency for debates such as this to become very adversarial and for the private sector's contribution to be disregarded because of their commercial interests. We believe that in order to make an impact on such huge issues, we need to get all parts of society playing a role and find new ways of working together and harnessing our respective skills.

  66.  We recognise that we have to earn the trust of government and stakeholders, however we can either push separately or push together. We need to understand and utilise each other's strengths—and the power of the Cadbury brand is one which has a relevance for parents and for teenagers. We want to harness that power for good.  

  67.  We approach this issue, as we do all others, in the spirit of our core purpose of "working together to create brands people love" and in the tradition of social involvement that has been our hallmark for over 100 years.

30 April 2003

1   Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Alliance (BCCCA), Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and Food Advertising Unit (FAU). Back

2   Our confectionery range encompasses sugar confectionery, chewing gum and functional confectionery as well as chocolate. Key brands include Cadbury, Trebor, Bassett, Fry's, Maynards, Butterkist, Hollywood, Sportlife, Trident, Dentyne, Halls and Stimorol. Our beverages range encompasses mineral waters, juices, ready-to-drink teas and flavoured milks, as well as still and carbonated beverages. Brands include Malvern waters, Schweppes Tonic, Canada Dry, Snapple, Nantucket Nectars, Oasis, Gini, La Casera, Big Apple, Orangina, Mott's apple juice and sauces, Dr Pepper, 7Up, Squirt, Clamato juices, Yoo-Hoo and Hawaiian Punch. Back

3   We sold the rights to our Schweppes brands to The Coca-Cola Company in 1999. Back

4   Today we continue to provide such services through a range of on-site and benefit choices. Further details are provided in paragraph 43. Back

5   National Food and Diet Survey, 2000. Back

6   Prentice, AM and Jebb, SA., Obesity in Britain: Gluttony or Sloth, British Medical Journal 211, 1995. Back

7   1983 data taken from The diets of British School Children, Department of Health, 1983. 1997 data taken from National Diet and Nutrition Survey: young people aged 4-18 years, The Stationery Office, 2000. Back

8   National Diet and Nutrition Survey, 2000. Back

9   Time Use Study, Exeter University, 2000. Back

10   British Nutrition Foundation, Obesity, 1999. Back

11   National Diet and Nutrition Survey, 2000. Back

12   Ibid. Back

13   British Nutrition Foundation, Obesity, 1999. Back

14   National Statistics, Social Trends 31, 1999. Back

15   National Diet and Nutrition Survey, 2000. Back

16   EUFUC Review, Understanding Obesity, Nov 1996 suggests exercise helps reduce the loss of lean body mass which occurs during dieting thus maintaining the body's basal metabolic rate. It affects metabolism and increases protective high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. It improves the body's handling of dietary fat and enhances the body's ability to use glucose thereby reducing the risk of diabetes. There is also evidence that it may help reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease and certain cancers. Back

17   Featured on the DfES Curriculum Online website as a digital learning resource addressing healthy eating and physical activity. Back

18   The Youth Sport Trust is a charity working to create opportunities for young people to receive a quality introduction to physical education and encourage active lifestyles amongst all young people. Back

19   For example, we met with the British Heart Foundation, the National Obesity Forum, the Consumers' Association and others to discuss the scheme and seek their feedback. Back

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