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Nine in ten people WANT sugar and calories to be reduced in food to save them from obesity, survey reveals

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 20/11/2018 Sam Blanchard Health Reporter For Mailonline

A huge majority of people believe supermarkets should have healthier foods by the check-outs and agree obesity is one of the UK's biggest health concerns. © Getty A huge majority of people believe supermarkets should have healthier foods by the check-outs and agree obesity is one of the UK's biggest health concerns. Nine out of 10 people want their food to be made healthier to stop them becoming obese, a survey has revealed.

Pressure is building on the food industry to reduce the amount of sugar and calories in their foods as more and more people become overweight.

A huge majority of people believe supermarkets should have healthier foods by the check-outs and agree obesity is one of the UK's biggest health concerns.

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Public Health England has warned it will call for more laws restricting the food industry if it doesn't work hard enough to reduce sugar levels.

many different types of food on a table: The food industry has been told to cut sugar levels in popular foods by 20 per cent before 2020, or Public Health England threatens it will bring in more laws like the sugar tax © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited The food industry has been told to cut sugar levels in popular foods by 20 per cent before 2020, or Public Health England threatens it will bring in more laws like the sugar tax 'Obesity is the pandemic of modern times,' said Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England (PHE), which commissioned the research.

'Customers are saying they want faster progress from the food industry and in particular those businesses that have taken little or no action.'

PHE warned it will be keeping a close eye on food businesses to track the Government's ambition of reducing sugar intake by 20 per cent by 2020.

Companies have been told to cut a fifth of the sugar content out of popular foods such as breakfast cereals, yoghurts, pizzas and ready meals.

People are overwhelmingly in favour of the industry being forced to make its food healthier, according to PHE's survey.

Most people – 90 per cent in a survey of 1,000 – admitted individual and family responsibility are the most important.

Gallery: 20 things to know about obesity (Espresso)

But 80 per cent added the food industry must take steps to help, with another 72 per cent saying the Government needs to help people be healthy.

Some 87 per cent of people support swapping unhealthy snacks at supermarket tills with healthier ones.

The survey comes after a sugar tax was this year placed on soft drinks and there are plans to restrict the number of calories allowed on pizzas and pies.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: 'Severe obesity in ten-to-eleven year olds is at an all-time high.

'Plans to improve the nation’s diet are often described as "nanny state" interference, but it’s clear people want healthier food and they expect the industry to play their full part in this.'

Figures last month revealed children in England are fatter than ever, with more than 200,000 10 to 11-year-olds classed as overweight or obese, and 24,000 of those severely obese. 

Places selling hot meals such as restaurants, cafes, pubs and takeaways have been targeted by PHE's warning to crack down.

'Obesity is the pandemic of modern times,' said Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England (PHE), which commissioned the research. © Getty 'Obesity is the pandemic of modern times,' said Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England (PHE), which commissioned the research. It warns it will highlight places which aren't working towards providing healthier meals, and may take more action against the industry as a whole – though it is not clear what form this could take.

Dr Tedstone suggested the Government could bring in more laws like the sugar tax to control what goes into food.

'We would hope to see significant reduction in the amount of sugar in the nine categories and products included in PHE's sugar reduction programme,' she added.

'We will advise if there is need for further action by Government when the data is published.

'In chapter two of the Childhood Obesity Plan they said they would consider other fiscal levers if progress was not good enough – we have already got a levy on sugary drinks.'

A report published in May this year revealed the food industry had failed to meet its target of cutting five per cent of sugar from popular foods by August 2017.

Pressure will continue to grow on companies producing and selling food as increasing numbers of people become obese.

Around a quarter of all adults in the UK are now obese, according to the NHS, and Public Health England's survey – run by pollster Ipsos Mori – found 79 per cent of people agreed obesity has a negative impact on the NHS.

The public acknowledged it as the third biggest health concern for people in the UK – behind only cancer and mental health.

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