Nestle will reduce sugar content in its confectionary product range for UK and Ireland by 10%, the company announced on Tuesday (7 March).

The Swiss food and drink company added that the move, which would see a cut of about 7,500 tonnes of sugar across its products, would be implemented by 2018.

The reduction will primarily be achieved by replacing sugar with more quantities of existing ingredients or other, non artificial ingredients. Nestle added that it will make sure that the final products, as a result of this change, will meet its criteria of being below a certain amount of calories.

Nestle's announcement follows the UK government's concern over the high content of sugar in the country's diet. Growing obesity levels are costing NHS about £5bn ($6.1bn) a year, a figure that is expected to increase to £9.7bn by 2050. UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt had asked restaurant chains in 2016 to make desserts smaller or less sweet in bid to tackle obesity.

In December 2016, Nestle had said it had discovered a way to reduce sugar in chocolates by 40%. The company claimed that its scientists had found a method to naturally alter the structure of sugar crystals so they dissolve more quickly, a process that it expected to launch in 2018.

Commenting on the latest announcement, Fiona Kendrick, chairman of Nestle UK and Ireland said: "Our confectionery brands have been enjoyed in the UK for more than a century and we know that if we can improve these products nutritionally, provide more choice and information for the consumer, together with other categories, we can have a significant impact on public health.

"Making these improvements to our products is key to us delivering better choices for our consumers while retaining the same great taste that they know and love."

UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt had recently asked restaurant chains in 2016 to make desserts smaller or less sweet in bid to tackle obesity.