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Pizzas and burgers could face calorie controls

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith

18th August 2017 – Health campaigners are urging the government to "try harder" to protect children from the risks of obesity.

The message comes as Public Health England (PHE) announces it could set targets to cut calories in some of the most popular children's foods.

Pizzas, burgers, savoury snacks, sandwiches and ready meals are among the items likely to be affected.

'Real progress' claim

Since the launch of the government's Childhood Obesity Plan a year ago, "real progress" has been made on reducing the levels of sugar in many products, says PHE.

It says the Soft Drinks Industry Levy is now law and will come into effect next year, and progress has been made with manufacturers and retailers in meeting the target of a 20% reduction in sugar in key foods by 2020.

However, PHE health officials say further work is needed because adults are currently eating between 200 to 300 calories too many each day, with children following suit. They say reducing calorie consumption from sources other than sugar is vital if the "worrying" obesity trend is to be reversed.

The comments come days after figures emerged showing that 621 children and young people under 25 were treated for type 2 diabetes in England and Wales in 2015-16.

Childhood obesity

According to PHE, 1 in 3 children are either overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school.

It intends to consider available evidence on children's calorie consumption and set out an "ambition" early next year to curb excess calories in a range of foods most popular with children. This would be followed by a period of consultation with the food industry, trade bodies and health non-governmental organisations for how and when a programme would be implemented.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, promises in a statement: "We will work with the food companies and retailers to tackle this as the next critical step in combating our childhood obesity problem."

The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA), a coalition of 40 health organisations, applauds the government for progress in cutting sugar in drinks. The soft drinks levy means that from 2018, drinks with more than 8g of total sugar per 100ml will attract a 24p per litre 'tax', and drinks between 5g and 8g sugar per 100ml will be liable for an 18p levy. Drinks with less than 5g of sugar per 100ml will be exempt.

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