Government must be prepared to move beyond voluntary targets on calorie reduction says BDA

The British Dietetic Association has urged government to have a plan B for its calories and salt reduction targets for industry, which were announced by Public Health England today.

Government has urged food manufacturers and retailers to target a 10% calorie reduction for ready meals, chips and garlic bread, while caterers, restaurants and others in the “Out of Home” sector have been given a 20% target for calorie reduction alongside a maximum calorie guideline for all categories.

The salt reduction targets build on the long standing salt reduction programme, and aim to reduce salt intake from the current average 8.4g per day, towards the recommended 6g.

BDA Policy Officer, Chloe Adams RD, said “Although food is about much more than calories, we do know that as a nation we eat too much calorie-dense, high sugar, fat and salt foods, which is bad for our health. Portion sizes of many foods have increased significantly in the past 20 years, so many of us will be eating more without realising it.

“Getting manufacturers to reduce the size and calorie content of their foods is one positive way of improving the nation’s health, but it must be part of a wider range of measures. We need to improve our food environment, make sure that healthy, nutritious food is both affordable and available to all, and support people living with obesity to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

“Critically, these are currently only voluntary targets, and government must be ready to go further if this approach does not work. We have already seen with the sugar reduction programme that industry has failed to meet the voluntary targets for free sugars in food, despite ample support and time to take action. We need a plan B to enforce improvements.”