Beyond sugar: Processed food industry considers calorie caps in the U.K.
07/25/2018 // Rhonda Johansson // Views

Since the public seems incapable (or unwilling) to check its own calories, the government has decided to do so for us. An advisory by Public Health England (PHE) has recommended that all fast food chains and manufacturers of ready-meals should limit the calorie content of their lunches and dinners to 600 calories and breakfast to 400. Food items most affected by these recommendations include frozen pizza and ready-made sandwiches.

Should the upcoming report be taken seriously, PHE’s program will be implemented all across the U.K., including Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

This follows the already controversial government tax on sugar-sweetened beverages that was announced in 2016. The sugar levy gave two years for soft drink makers to reformulate their drinks. After that time, all beverages would be subjected to two tax bands: the first for drinks with a total sugar content above five grams per 100 ml and a second, more severe band for sugary drinks with more than eight grams per 100 ml.

This levy was not met with open arms. Public outcries said that such a tax would “result in less innovation and product reformulation, and for some manufacturers is certain to cost jobs.” Apoplectic though the arguments were, U.K. officials stayed firm and said that the sugar levy would have a profound effect in not only the existing health of British adults but on children as well – a vast majority of young Britons are currently overweight or obese.

The PHE’s new recommendations seem to be met with the same vociferous opinion. Food manufacturers believe that the limitation is pretty much the same as “forcing” a diet on the British population. In response, PHE spokespeople have said that they will be focusing on clearly communicating their mission on healthy eating habits.


“It’s imperative that PHE’s programme clearly recommends the source of the excess calories that are reduced in order to ensure that manufacturers are responsible for improving the overall nutritional value of the foods we are consuming,” campaign manager at Action on Sugar Jenny Rosborough said.

The goal of the new advisory, PHE says, is not to force people to any single way of living, but to highlight the importance of choosing healthier foods and generally following a healthier lifestyle. This has become all the more necessary as the U.K. has garnered the dubious reputation of being the most overweight country in Western Europe and the sixth in the world, the group states. Currently, 63 percent of U.K. adults are overweight.

Sometimes the hand needs to be forced

The main argument of detractors of both the sugar levy and PHE’s recommendation is that people should not be punished or forced into one specific lifestyle. Nevertheless, health advocates say that more action needs to be taken to battle the looming disaster of childhood obesity. More children today are overweight or obese than ever before. The consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle during childhood contribute to an increased risk of a lower lifespan as an adult. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that children who are overweight are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults. Furthermore, they are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, and certain types of cancer.

A main component of one’s weight is food. The occasional snack is fine, but repeated consumption of highly processed, sugary foods will make you fat and unhealthy. You can easily prevent this by slowly transitioning to a healthier diet; one that is both varied and low in calories.

To read more news on diet and everything else connected to it, visit

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