Leader of the pack

Childhood obesity plan ‘flawed’

The UK has been chosen by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to lead an international network established to tackle global obesity, by cutting sugar and calories in food and drink products.

The new Sugar and Calorie Reduction Network, announced by chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty at the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, will launch in spring 2022.

The network’s member states will share learning expertise to encourage manufacturers to reformulate products by cutting the amount of sugar, and therefore calories, in food and drinks.

We know obesity is a global problem and in the UK we need to take urgent action to help people live healthier lives. Boris Johnson announced a strategy to get the nation lighter and fitter, triggered by his encounter with coronavirus. We also have the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care’s new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities – launching in October – to lead national efforts to improve and level up the health of the nation by tackling obesity.

The UK is a leader in many fields of food and drink. It is a great move for the UK to help people eat more healthily via its technical expertise in reformulating products by cutting the amount of sugar, and therefore calories, in food and drinks to ensure they are healthier.

Experts in the food policy and regulation sector have welcomed the decision by the WHO for the UK to lead the new Sugar and Calorie Reduction Network for the organisation’s European region.

Chris Whitehouse, chairman and managing director of Whitehouse Communications, which specialises in UK and EU food regulation and public health policy said there is “no better choice” than the UK to bring together nations and take a pan-European approach to the growing health crisis of obesity.

The UK has been proactive in its approach to look at the causes of weight gain – such as lack of early nutrition education and access to sports and exercise equipment – and, therefore, the preventative measures required to confront this.

I echo what Chris Whitehouse said in the creation of a range of measures and policies which reflect the complex and sensitive nature of obesity.

The approach needs to be embraced by all and education is key to making everyone understand the issues involved in helping tackle obesity.

He said: “An approach which is as accessible and educationally resourceful as it is empathetic and understanding towards contributing issues such as mental health, lesser-recognised illnesses such as Binge Eating Disorder and PCOS and the ever-prevalent problem of food poverty, which allows all consumers and food and drink producers to carve out a healthier future.”

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