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PHE: Cutting calories in some foods by a fifth would save NHS £9bn

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6 March 2018

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Slashing the amount of calories in popular foods by a fifth would produce nearly £9bn of NHS savings over the next 25 years, Public Health England (PHE) has said.

More than 35,000 premature deaths would be prevented and £9bn would be saved over a 25-year period if the food industry cut the amount of calories in foods by 20% within the next five years, PHE said.

Slashing the amount of calories in popular foods by a fifth would produce nearly £9bn of NHS savings over the next 25 years, Public Health England (PHE) has said.

More than 35,000 premature deaths would be prevented and £9bn would be saved over a 25-year period if the food industry cut the amount of calories in foods by 20% within the next five years, PHE said.

The Government has challenged food manufacturers to do so in a bid to tackle obesity in children and adults.

'Too many calories'

PHE chief executive Duncan Selbie said that ‘children and adults routinely eat too many calories and that is why so many are overweight or obese.’

He continued: ‘Industry can help families by finding innovative ways to lower the calories in the food we all enjoy and promoting UK business leadership on the world stage in tackling obesity.’

PHE argued that there are three key ways by which the food industry could reduce calories. They include:

– Changing recipes so foods contain less sugar, calories or salt

– Reducing portion sizes

– Encouraging customers to buy healthier products

Targeted products include breakfast cereals, ice creams, cakes and chocolate bars, ready meals, sandwiches and pizza.

Childhood obesity

One in three children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school in England, according to PHE.

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) revealed that children eat nearly three times more sugar than they need, while only 25% of adults consume five fruits or vegetables a day.

In a blog, PHE chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone wrote: ‘When it comes to tackling the obesity crisis, change won’t happen overnight – it will take the efforts of many and a range of initiatives until we really see improvements.

‘Just as there are many causes of obesity, we need multiple approaches to tackling it.’

With almost £6bn spent every year on treating obesity-related conditions, PHE said that health problems are placing a ‘huge strain’ on the NHS.

The NHS has already planned to ban sugary drinks in hospitals in England from July 2018.

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