Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

..... ..... ..... ..... ..... .....

Food Law News - UK - 2018

Department of Health Publication, 25 June 2018

NUTRITION / LABELLING - Childhood obesity: a plan for action - Chapter 2

This publication outlines the actions the government will take towards its goal of halving childhood obesity and reducing the gap in obesity between children from the most and least deprived areas by 2030. It follows part one of the childhood obesity plan.

Childhood obesity: a plan for action - Chapter 2

A copy of the full publication is available on the Department of Health pages (click on image).

For Part 1, published on 18th August 2016, Click Here or see related News Item: 18 August 2016 NUTRITION / LABELLING - The government’s plan for action to significantly reduce childhood obesity by supporting healthier choices

Given below is an extract from the 'Introduction and Summary' section:

Summary of actions 

Our 2016 plan was the start of a conversation, not the end. In the two years since it was published we have seen some important successes, particularly in reformulation of the products our children eat and drink most. However, we have always been clear we would consider where further action was needed, and where sufficient progress was not being delivered. The continuing magnitude of the challenge on childhood obesity means now is the right time to build on the 2016 plan both to cement the action already taken, and to expand our focus into other areas.

Sugar reduction 

At the heart of our plan was the ambition to make the food our children eat healthier. Reducing sugar content in the food children eat most was a key part of that. The Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) was introduced to incentivise industry to reduce the sugar content of soft drinks, and has delivered strong results, with the majority of the soft drink industry reducing the sugar content before the Levy came into force on 6th April 2018. Tesco and Asda have both reformulated their own brand soft drinks to be below the Levy rates. 

We also challenged industry to take 20% of sugar out of the food most commonly eaten by children by 2020, with a 5% reduction target for the first year. This has already led to many parts of the food and drink industry removing sugar from their most popular products. For example, Kellogg’s have cut between 20%-40% of sugar from their cereals most popular with children; Yoplait have reduced the amount of sugar by 13.2%, and Waitrose have taken 5.5% of sugar out of their confectionery. Importantly, we have also seen an increasing consumer demand for healthier food and drink as a result of these programmes. Large parts of the food and drink industry have taken this seriously, with many parts of the sector leading the way and there is more reformulation in the pipeline. However, despite some sections of industry meeting the 5% one year progress target, overall the 5% goal has not been achieved. 

To ensure we continue to drive progress on sugar reduction:

In 2019, Government will look at the level of progress towards a 20% sugar reduction in the foods most commonly eaten by children and will be able to assess if this challenge has been met in 2020. We will not shy away from further action, including mandatory and fiscal levers, if industry is failing to face up to the scale of the problem through voluntary reduction programmes.  

Calorie reduction 

Childhood obesity is not just about eating too much sugar; it is about the whole diet. We know that on average overweight and obese children are consuming up to 500 extra calories per day.14 To address this, in 2017 we started work on our calorie reduction programme, which challenges all food and drink companies - whether they are manufacturers, retailers, restaurants or takeaways - to reduce the calories by 20% in a range of everyday foods consumed by children by 2024. This will help make sure children and their families are able to buy healthier food. Government will monitor progress against this target closely once the programme begins, and Government will consider what additional steps could be taken if progress is not delivered. 

We are also turning our attention to how we make choices about the food we buy, particularly pre-prepared food, whether it is picking up a takeaway or going out to eat. We think it is crucial that parents and individuals are given the information they need to make the most informed decisions about the food they choose for their families. While some parts of the food and drink industry, such as Subway, are leading the way by including calorie labelling on menus, these remain in the minority. 

To ensure we continue to drive progress on calorie reduction and transparent information for parents we will:

Advertising and promotions 

Tackling obesity requires us to look at all factors that influence our food choices. Every day we are presented with constant encouragement and opportunity to eat the least healthy foods. We face numerous decisions about the food we and our children eat created by the advertisements our children see on TV and on-line; the range of foods sold in our local shops or delivered straight to our doors; and the food that is promoted in-store and on-line. All of this is intended to influence the choices we make about the food we buy our children. 

In our 2016 plan we committed to updating current marketing restrictions to ensure they reflected the latest dietary advice. This work is underway as Public Health England (PHE) consult on updating the Nutrient Profiling Model, the tool used to define what products can and cannot be shown during children’s programming. However, despite strict restrictions around children’s TV we know their impact will be limited if they do not reflect their media habits across all the media platforms which they use.

To make more progress to reduce the marketing and promotion of unhealthy food and drink - which we define as products that are high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) - we will:

Where food is placed in shops and how it is promoted can influence the way we shop and it is more common for HFSS products to be placed in the most prominent places in store and sold on promotion, e.g. with ‘buy one get one free’ offers. Whilst some retailers have taken the first steps to redressing this by removing confectionary from checkouts or restricting price promotions, we believe that wherever parents shop, they shouldn’t be bombarded with promotions for HFSS products. To create this level playing field:  

To go to main Foodlaw-Reading Index page, click here.