Support for sugar and calorie reduction
A new survey from Public Health England (PHE) shows overwhelming public support for reducing sugar and calories in everyday foods.
Carried out by Ipsos MORI, the survey found that around 9 in 10 people support the government working with the food industry in manufacturing, supermarkets and the eating out of the home sector, with the aim to make everyday foods and drinks healthier. Helping the NHS were named as one of the main reasons for supporting this cause.
The survery didn't make any concessions for restaurants, coffee shops or cafes which often considered a 'treat' and it applied to all sectors.
Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, tells the food industry: "Obesity is the pandemic of modern times. Customers are saying they want faster progress from the food industry, and in particular, those businesses that have taken little or no action. We will be publicly reporting on these during 2019."
He also explains, that next year PHE will highlight where progress has not been made on sugar reduction and the result that this will have on the government possibly taking more action.
Exploring the public's perception of obesity, PHE has challenged the food industry to reduce sugar and calories by 20% in everyday foods, such as: breakfast cereals, yoghurts, pizzas and ready meals.
Some of the findings and statistics from this survey include: over 9 in 10 people thinking obesity is a problem, 79% believing obesity has a negative effect on the NHS, with only cancer (47%) and mental health (33%) being seen as bigger health concerns than obesity ( 38%).
It also found that 90% of respondants believed that tackling obesity lies with individuals and families, 80% for the food industry and 73% for the government. There was also support from 87% of people to replace unhealthy products with healthier ones at supermarket tills and checkouts.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutrionist at PHE said: "Severe obesity in ten-to-eleven year-olds is at an all-time high. Plans to improve the nation’s diet are often described as ‘nanny state’ interference, but it’s clear people want healthier food and they expect the industry to play their full part in this."
The overwhelming evidence from the survey shows that the public expects the government to tackle the problem of obesity with 60% thinking they could do more; however the survey was taken before the government published chapter 2 of its Childhood Obesity Plan; PHE reported in May 2018 that there had been a 2% reduction in foods contibuting the most sugar to childrens diets, while almost 6% has been reduced in some product categories.
PHE will publish another survey next year following the progress towards reaching the 20% sugar reduction ambition by 2020. There are also industry guidelines with an aim to achieve a 20% reduction in calories by 2024.