TAKEAWAY and fast food favourites could shrink by a fifth as Public Health England (PHE) cracks down on calories.
The move is the latest play by the government the curb the obesity crisis in the UK.
This means that favourites such as a McDonald’s Big Mac or a portion of fish and chips at the seaside could be reduced in size by up to 20 per cent.
A Big Mac currently has 508 calories for the burger, under the proposed rules this would shrink to 407.
The plans are not yet set in stone but could mean many favourites are shrivelled down in order to lower the calorie count.
The food industry is now being urged to “voluntarily” cut calories from some of its most popular items.
Officials said that the calories in some foods could be reduced by as much as 20 per cent, while it would also work towards a 10 per cent calorie reduction in children’s “food bundles”, as well as a 10 per cent reduction in ready meals, chips and garlic bread.
The PHE report singled out takeaway pizzas as a major source of calories – one pizza can include more than a person’s entire daily recommended calorie limit.
People could also be encouraged to switch to low-calorie alternatives or reduce portion sizes.
The document states that xrisps, sandwiches and savoury snacks should aim for a 5 per cent calorie reduction.
Meanwhile, pizzas and pastry products should aim for a 20 per cent reduction in calories.
The Government has also set new salt reduction targets after analysis showed that people are still regularly consuming more than the recommended daily limits of salt in their diets.
The current average of salt intake is 8.4g a day – higher than the recommended limit of 6g.
Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said: “We can all do our bit to stay healthy, to help protect us from coronavirus and take pressure off the NHS.
“The food industry can play their part, by making it as easy as possible for everyone to eat more healthily. These guidelines will help them take positive action.”
The spotlight has been on the obesity crisis as it was previously found that people who are obese are more at risk from the coronavirus.
The NHS previously warned the obese patients were twice as likely to be killed by Covid.
The UK is the second fattest nation in Europe, after Malta.
More than a quarter of Brits are obese – with a body mass index over 30. It compares to just one in 35 in the 70s.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist for PHE, said: “Eating food and drink that’s higher in calories than people realise is one of the reasons why many of us are either overweight or obese.
“This is about broadening choice for consumers, as well as making the healthier choice the easy choice. Progress to date on sugar and salt reduction has shown that this can happen without compromising on taste and quality.”
Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum added that the government has started to sounds like a “scratchy record”.
“Years ago it thought that the food and drink industry would voluntarily do its bidding.
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“Whitehall conjured up a programme called ‘The Responsibility Deal” whereby industry barons would pledge to play along with it. But the deal failed.
“Undaunted, a new voluntary programme was introduced to cut 20% of sugar from certain categories by 2020 – but, again, it failed.
“The only government measure to have been a success is the 2018 Sugary Drinks Industries Levy and it’s still working because it’s compulsory.
“The sooner we get similar bold action with cutting calories and salt, the sooner obesity will have a chance of being curbed.”
Source: The Sun