Public Health England (PHE) is encouraging the food industry to tackle obesity and boost national health in the wake of COVID-19 with new voluntary calorie guidelines.
The new guidelines are designed to reduce excessive calories in everyday foods by up to 20% by 2024.
As well as helping curb the UK’s obesity epidemic, the guidelines are also intended to curb cases and deaths of COVID-19. For example, a recent PHE report found that being severely overweight increases people’s risk of hospitalisation, Intensive Care Unit admission and death from COVID-19.
The government is therefore made a number of voluntary guidelines for the food industry. These include:
- a 20% calorie reduction for most meal categories in the eating out of home, takeaway and delivery sector, alongside a maximum calorie guideline for all categories
- for children’s meal bundles, a 10% calorie reduction ambition has been set to reflect progress already made
- 10% calorie reduction ambition for retailers making ready meals, chips and garlic bread, alongside a maximum calorie guideline for all categories
- for crisps and savoury snacks, a 5% ambition
- combined guidelines for both sectors have been set for sandwiches (5% ambition) and pizza and pastry products (20% ambition)
“The food industry can play their part, by making it as easy as possible for everyone to eat more healthily,” said Public Health Minister Jo Churchill. “These guidelines will help them take positive action.”
Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist for PHE, said: “This is about broadening choice for consumers, as well as making the healthier choice the easy choice. Progress to date on sugar and salt reduction has shown that this can happen without compromising on taste and quality.”
Industry’s progress against the programme’s ambitions will be monitored with reports on calorie and salt reduction expected in 2022.