How soon before Public Health England is demanding that spoons are made smaller to tackle the obesity epidemic?
As well-meaning and, in truth, desperate as the new war on waistlines is, it’s effectiveness will be under intense scrutiny.
Let’s face it, every other campaign aimed at tackling our nation’s obesity issue has, by almost every measure, been an utter failure. We have never been fatter.
Which is why Public Health England (PHE) has told the public it’s time “to get on a diet” and is targeting the food industry to get its house in order.
The move is part of a drive to cut calorie consumption by 20% by 2024.
That we need to do this is not in question.
Obesity is costing the NHS more than £6billion every year.
If the calorie target of the new campaign can be achieved, 35,000 early deaths could be prevented over 25 years. PHE officials are targeting the 13 different food groups that are responsible for a fifth of the calorie intake of children.
Among the usual suspects are pizza, burgers, ready meals and crisps.
PHE is telling food manufacturers, supermarkets, takeaways and fast-food outlets to reduce the calories in these foods to help make it easier for “people to make healthier choices.”
What will be the key to success for this campaign is the teeth the PHE has, or is prepared to show, to deal with those failing to toe the line.
They are threatening to name and shame those not pulling their weight (so to speak) and if that fails, are prepared to ask the government to legislate.
And that’s where this plan falls short. Without the backing of legislation, it is relying on the goodwill of food manufacturers and supermarkets.
It also needs the public to cut down on consumption ... something that it has been reluctant to do, opting instead to eat more.
Reducing the calorie count in foods will make little difference if people just eat more and more. You can make the plates smaller, but you can’t stop the consumer piling that plate higher!
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, but without adequate teeth, we fear the PHE plan lacks the bite to succeed.
Smaller spoons, anyone?