The Government has launched a new drive to crack down on the obesity that is sweeping the nation. Statistics have revealed that England has one of the highest obesity rates in Europe, with a third of children aged 10 or 11, and over 60% of British adults being clinically overweight or obese.
17 firms, including Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Subway, Mars and Coca-Cola have signed up to the new government scheme to cut calories and help tackle obesity, but the crackdown has been criticised by some for not including many of the fast food chains around Britain. KFC, McDonalds, Burger King and many other popular chains were all left out of the scheme.
Charlie Powell, of the food campaigner Sustain, has labelled the scheme a “smoke-and-mirrors” deal. He stated that it was all well and good to launch new products with reduced calories, but added that the companies should be committed to permanently reducing calories across all of their ranges.
Terry Jones, a representative of the Food Manufacturers Federation, however, said that companies were committed to making changes and that by 2013/14 many of the companies are aiming to have taken 30% of calories out of some of their products.
Under the new scheme, there will be a cap of 250 calories on every chocolate bar made by Mars and Coca-Cola has said that it will reduce calories in a selection of its soft drinks by 30% by 2014.
Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said that over 75% of the UK’s retail market has signed up the take the pledge and that everyone – from individuals to all public and private organisations, government or otherwise – has a role to play if five billion calories are to be cut from the national diet. He stated that this step is only the beginning of what needs to be a bigger and broader commitment from the country’s food industry.