In the UK, almost two thirds of adults and one third of children leaving primary school are obese or overweight. Obesity rates have doubled in the past two decades and Britain is now the most obese nation in Western Europe. The health and economic burden of obesity is immense and, left unchecked, it’s predicted to cripple public health services.
Urgent action is required and in 2016, the UK Government launched its much-awaited Childhood Obesity Plan which included a number of initiatives to reduce the sugar, and thereby calories, in the food and drink we consume, including the soft drinks sugar levy and PHE’s sugar reduction programme which is targeting a 20% reduction in sugar in products by 2020.
With that work well underway, PHE has this year broadened its reach with the launch of a calorie reduction programme which will challenge those categories of foods not already covered by the sugar reduction programme, including pizzas, ready meals, sandwiches and savoury snacks, to reduce calories by 20% by 2024. It is anticipated that, cumulatively, these efforts will impact 50% of children’s overall calorie intake.
There has been much debate around the efficacy of these tactics and whether the Childhood Obesity plan goes far enough – can voluntary schemes ever achieve the level of change required to be impactful? With a quarter of calories now coming from out-of-home, how will changes be made in this notoriously challenging sector? With industry looking to portion control as a key tactic, how do they “get it right” and avoid unintended consequences of consumers eating additional portions?
Is PHE’s 400-600-600 calorie messaging helpful or harmful? Does it over-emphasise quantity versus quality? Or normalise snacking? Does it present an opportunity to industry to signpost or launch new products with 100 calories max – or is 100 calories max achievable for only a handful of products? How will industry balance their efforts between reformulation, portion control and shifting their marketing toward healthier lines, and retain competitive advantage? Is there appetite to ban up-sells/super-sizing and cap portion sizes to shift away from bucket-sized drinks and snacks? Should on-the-menu labelling be mandated out-of-home, as it’s about to be in larger US chains?
The Calorie Reduction Summit provides a vital and timely forum to bring together industry and retail, academia, policymakers, public health and science and nutrition stakeholders to discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by current developments in nutrition policy. From PHE’s calorie reduction and sugar reduction programmes to the soft drinks sugar levy, from the opportunity or threat Brexit represents for regulation, to nutrient profile changes, from the potential for mandating out-of-home on-menu calorie labelling to the SACN saturated fat review.
Key Topics include
- Is there sufficient evidence-base behind PHE’s mealtime and snack calorie messaging?
- The impact of portion, packaging and tableware size
- Research and evidence on unobtrusive reductions in calories, in restaurant settings – what levels of reduction can be achieved without consumers knowing or minding?
- Insights from the out of home sector on increasing momentum toward healthy eating and using it to leverage competitive advantage
- Portion control tipping points – how small is too small, how do you find the right balance?
- The sugar tax catalysed reformulation – is there appetite to extend to other categories?
- What threats and opportunities does Brexit pose to calorie reduction?
- Out-of-home is a particularly challenging area what is being achieved and what more can be done -what’s needed to catalyse change?
- How is industry shifting their marketing spend toward healthier lines and what’s the impact on total sales?
- What does data tell us about portion size and serving size?