Food sellers and manufacturers have been asked by the UK public health officials to reduce calories in their products by 20% by 2024. This is part of the government’s strategy to cut childhood and adult obesity.
If the 20% target is met within five years, Public Health England (PHE) claimed that 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.
To make this possible, the food industry needs to change the recipe of products, reduce portion sizes and encourage consumers to purchase lower calorie products. The programme covers foods such as pizzas, ready meals, ready-made sandwiches, meat products, and savoury snacks.
“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,” said PHE Chief Executive Duncan Selbie.
“We have a responsibility to act, which is why we are supporting families to make the healthy choice. Our calorie reduction programme – the first of its kind from any country in the world – will continue to build on the progress of our world-leading childhood obesity plan, which has led to positive steps by industry,” said UK public health and social care minister Steve Brine.
Asking people to make healthy food choices has proved difficult; therefore, the new approach is asking the food industry to make this change.
“The 20% reduction target is the result of analysis of the new calorie consumption data, experience of sugar and salt reduction programmes, and more than 20 meetings with the food industry and stakeholders,” said PHE chief nutritionist Alison Tedstone.
The next step of this programme will start in mid-2019 and it will involve retailers, manufacturers, major restaurants, cafés, takeaways, delivery companies, and the health and charity sectors.