Cutting calories in meals ‘a tough ask’ for operators

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Tackling obesity: ready-made sandwiches (not pictured) is one food category covered by the programme
Tackling obesity: ready-made sandwiches (not pictured) is one food category covered by the programme

Related tags Nutrition Public health england

Trade body UKHospitality has warned Public Health England (PHE) not to overburden hospitality businesses, including pubs, as it unveiled its Calorie Reduction report.

Evidence surrounding childhood and adult obesity alongside further measures to combat the problem, was revealed in the report, including a challenge to the food industry to reduce calories in products consumed by families by 20% by 2024.

Categories of food covered by the programme include pizzas, ready meals, ready-made sandwiches, meat products and savoury snacks.

It also included the launch of the latest One You ​campaign, encouraging adults to consume 400 calories at breakfast, and 600 for lunch and dinner respectively.

UKHospitality said it will continue to liaise with PHE and the Department of Health in pursuit of a “shared ambition” to reduce childhood and adulthood obesity.

Promoting healthy lifestyles

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The hospitality industry has a long track record of promoting healthy lifestyles through reformulating recipes, offering healthier options, and reducing sugar, salt, fat and calories in meal options.

“To help support businesses, last year we produced an Industry Nutrition Guide ​to help every chef and catering manager in the UK provide healthier choices for customers.

“In order to build on this progress, it is crucial that Government initiatives do not place undue pressure on businesses, which may derail ongoing work to promote healthy lifestyles.

“In meetings, UKHospitality has repeatedly raised issues with PHE about its sugar programme and its data collection methodology, which precludes many businesses from engaging and demonstrating their good work.”

She labelled the new programme as “a tough ask” because unlike retailers and manufacturers, menus and recipes come in different shapes and sizes.

Severe pressures

Nicholls added: “There is also a question surrounding cost for hospitality operators. Our members have consistently altered menu choices, at great expense, to reduce calories and provide healthier options.

“With severe pressures on hospitality businesses across the board, demonstrated by recent restaurant closures, now is not the time to put further stress on operators to meet targets.

“We also believe that ensuring good nutrition and reducing the level of childhood obesity requires a holistic approach.

“We would like to see industry efforts to tackle childhood obesity complemented by stronger emphasis on nutrition and physical exercise in the school curriculum, as well as significantly improved education around food for children and adults alike.

“We will continue to work with our members, Government, and PHE to tackle childhood obesity. Supporting the industry in promoting healthy living and driving best practice remains a priority for UKHospitality.”

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