Chocolate bars (and maybe your jeans size) could soon shrink.
In an effort to combat childhood obesity, Public Health England (PHE) has published guidelines for the food industry to cut sugar content by five per cent this year and by 20 per cent in the next three years. The nine food categories impacted include yoghurt, sweet spreads, pastries and confectionery.
PHE said these measures could reduce 200,000 tonnes of sugar from children’s diets per year, as well as drop the number of overweight children by 20 per cent in the next 10 years.
Food producers can meet these goals in a few ways:
Reformulating food with less sugar
Increasing sales of products with less sugar
Reducing portion size
None of these guidelines are mandated and there are no penalties for choosing not to institute them, so at this point PHE is relying solely on producers’ consciences.
Currently about one third of 11-year-old children are overweight and the NHS considers obesity one of the major health issues facing the country.
Chief executive of PHE Duncan Selbie said the plan is “pro-business” and “the most ambitious anti-obesity plan anywhere in the world.”
“This is is not moralistic and it is not hysterical,” he added. “This is about children and we have a problem.”
Making sugary products in smaller portions may not necessarily help, said Tam Fry from the National Obesity Forum. It may just encourage consumers to buy two of the product instead and end up eating more sugar anyway. Fry said the best method could be reformulating the entire product and replacing the sugar with healthier ingredients.
Other measures to fight obesity included last year’s controversial sugar tax.
Still, might as well stock up on those giant Cadbury creme eggs and family-sized Jaffa Cakes while you still can. We won’t tell.