Plans announced to cut excess calorie consumption in England

Public Health England calorie reduction Duncan Selbie PHE
Duncan Selbie: Too many children and most adults are overweight
LACA
06/03/2018 - 10:40
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 of measures 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 200–300 calories in excess each day.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, said: “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 £6b 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 its publication ‘Calorie reduction: The scope and ambition for action’, which has just been launched by PHE. As with the sugar reduction programme, it says the industry has three ways to reduce calories.

These are to change the recipe of products, to reduce portion size, and to 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 five years, more than 35,000 premature deaths could be prevented and around £9b in NHS healthcare and social care costs could be saved over a 25-year period.

The report also includes new data on children’s daily calorie consumption. Depending on their age, overweight and obese boys consume between 140–500 calories too many each day and for girls it is 160–290, when compared to those with healthy body weights. Adults consume on average 200–300 calories too many each day.

Selbie added: “The simple truth is on average we need to eat less. Children and adults routinely eat too many calories and it’s why so many are overweight or obese.

“Industry can help families by finding innovative ways to lower the calories in the food we all enjoy, and promoting UK business leadership on the world stage in tackling obesity.”

The latest One You campaign aims to support people to be more calorie-aware when they are out and about with its simple tip 400-600-600 – aim for 400 calories at breakfast, and 600 for lunch and dinner.

Major high-street brands are partnering with PHE on the campaign, signposting to meals that meet the 400-600-600 tip. Total daily calorie intake recommendations remain at 2000 for women and 2500 for men.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “It’s hard for people to make healthy food choices, whether for themselves or their families.

“That’s why we are challenging the food industry to take 20% of the calories out of everyday foods, building on their good work on salt and promising announcements on sugar.

“We are also working through our campaign and its partners, to give the public the information they need to help make those choices easier.”

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