Public Health England (PHE) has published a new strategy to cut childhood and adult obesity which includes a challenge to the food industry to reduce calories in popular products by 20 per cent by 2024.
The government’s challenge to the food industry is set out in Calorie reduction: the scope and ambition for action, published yesterday (Tuesday 6 March 2018). The strategy suggests three ways that the industry can reduce calorie content in foods such as pizzas, ready meals, ready-made sandwiches, meat products and savoury snacks. It recommends that the industry change the recipe of products, reduce portion size and encourage consumers to purchase lower calorie products.
“If the 20 per cent target is met within five years, more than 35,000 premature deaths could be prevented and around £9 billion in NHS healthcare and social care costs could be saved over a 25-year period,” PHE says.
The report includes new data on children’s daily calorie consumption. It states that, depending on age, overweight and obese boys consume between 140 and 500 calories too many each day. For girls, the figure is 160 to 290 calories. Adults consume on average 200 to 300 calories too many each day, the evidence indicates.
The next step in the programme involves engagement with the whole food industry such as retailers, manufacturers, major restaurant, café, takeaway, and delivery companies, and health and charity sectors, to develop category guidelines. These are expected to be published in mid-2019.