Plans to cut excess calorie consumption unveiled

Friday, March 9, 2018 - 13:45

Steps to reduce 20% of calories in popular foods by 2024 announced to tackle childhood obesity

Major steps to cut people’s excessive calorie intake have been unveiled by Public Health England (PHE), as part of the government’s strategy to cut childhood and adult obesity.

The package includes:

  • new evidence highlighting overweight or obese boys and girls consume up to 500 and 290 calories too many each day respectively
  • a challenge to the food industry to reduce calories in products consumed by families by 20% by 2024
  • the launch of the latest One You campaign, encouraging adults to consume 400 calories at breakfast, and 600 for lunch and dinner; this comes as adults consume 200 to 300 calories in excess each day

Too many children and most adults are overweight or obese, suffering consequences from bullying and low self-esteem in childhood, to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers as adults. An obese parent is more likely to have an obese child, who in turn is more likely to grow up into an obese adult.

Obesity affects us all, as it is a burden on the NHS and local authorities. The NHS spends around £6 billion a year treating obesity-related conditions. Obesity-related health problems also keep people out of work, stifling their earnings and wider economic productivity.

The government’s challenge to the food industry is set out in Calorie reduction: the scope and ambition for action, published on Tuesday 6 March 2018, by PHE. As with the sugar reduction programme, the industry has 3 ways to reduce calories:

  • change the recipe of products
  • reduce portion size
  • encourage consumers to purchase lower calorie products

Categories of food covered by the programme include pizzas, ready meals, ready-made sandwiches, meat products and savoury snacks.

If the 20% target is met within 5 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.

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