F4. Calorie Reduction

“Recognising that the Call to Action on Obesity in England set out the importance of action on obesity, and issued a challenge to the population to reduce its total calorie consumption by 5 billion calories (kcal) a day,

We will support and enable our customers to eat and drink fewer calories through actions such as product/ menu reformulation, reviewing portion sizes, education and information, and actions to shift the marketing mix towards lower calorie options.  We will monitor and report on our actions on an annual basis.”

The following provides background and supporting information to help organisations understand what this pledge sets out to achieve and how, by becoming a Responsibility Deal partner, you can help deliver this pledge.

What this pledge sets out to achieve and why it is important.

Healthy Lives, healthy people: a call to action on obesity in England, published in October 2011, set out the scale of the obesity challenge facing the nation, described the action needed by a wide range of partners to address the issue and set national ambitions for reductions in obesity prevalence.

The Call to Action made clear that, while increased levels of physical activity are important, reductions in the nation’s calorie consumption are key if we are to achieve the national ambitions.  It included a calorie reduction challenge to the nation to reduce its energy intake by 5 billion calories (kcal) a day.

Supporting individuals to achieve the calorie reduction challenge calls for concerted action by a wide range of partners with influence on our diet – including central Government (through the Change4Life campaign or the new Alcohol Strategy), local authorities and the food industry (through its powerful influence on our diet and food choices) – to help us change our behaviour and reduce calorie intake.

Benefits to public health

The latest Health Survey for England shows us that over 1 in 4 adults in this country are obese.  Nearly a third of children aged 2-15 are overweight or obese.  Being obese and overweight increases the risk of a range of diseases that can have a significant health impact e.g. heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

The calorie reduction pledge provides a mechanism for the food and drink industry to make and record its contribution to helping the population meet the calorie reduction challenge. It is an opportunity for the industry to build on its track record and to go further, recognising the scale of the challenge we face.

The pledge encapsulates the Government’s priorities of supporting sustainable and responsible economic growth.  It sees the health and growth objectives as intertwined and mutually reinforcing.  The innovation and competition which drives growth in the food industry – and which remains a priority – can also powerfully help drive forward its contribution to the national ambition to reduce calorie intake.

How you can deliver this pledge

There are a range of actions which the food industry might take in response to the pledge.  These are likely to vary from one business to another.  To help businesses shape their response, a set of guiding principles and a “menu” of possible actions (intended to illustrate the possibilities but not to be exhaustive) is set out below.

Actions in pursuit of the calorie reduction pledge should:

  • seek to deliver long-term and sustained reductions in energy intake;
  • include measures linked to the company’s core business;
  • be developed in a way which embraces the spirit of the Responsibility Deal to improve public health and seeks to avoid the potential for unintended consequences, including the likelihood of exacerbating health inequalities; and
  • not conflict with, and if possible support work to reduce the salt and/ or saturated fat content of products.

Possible actions (with examples of activity) include:

  • Reformulation: Recipe/ menu changes to decrease energy density; fat and sugar reduced in products, or substituted with other lower calorie ingredients
  • Portion size: Reductions to portion sizes of existing products/ menu items
  • Development of lower calorie options; Baked products replacing fried e.g. savoury snacks; Calorie restricted products e.g. 99 kcal chocolate bars
  • Encouraging consumers to choose healthier options: Promotion of smaller portion sizes to encourage down-sizing; other ‘substitution’ promotions to favour lower calorie options
  • Satiety enhancers: Potential to increase the content of satiating ingredients to decrease overall energy intake e.g. fibre
  • Balance of portfolio/ menu/ etc: Companies may expand or change their offering to include a greater proportion of ‘healthier’ products/ menu items; Procurement and default options offered to customers are the healthy options e.g. coffee shops use of lower fat milks, caterers and retailers use of reduced fat cheeses, spreads and lower fat meats etc.
  • Activity intended to inform and educate consumers towards making healthier choices: This could, for example, extend into meal composition and food preparation, such as funding healthier eating sessions in local schools such action should ideally accompany other actions.
  • Other: By harnessing their creative powers, companies may be able to develop further options to facilitate behaviour change – for example, this might include innovative use of loyalty cards.

In advance of signing, we would request that you send us an outline of how you intend to comply with the pledge to the email address below. We will then be able to give you informal feedback prior to formal sign up and publication.

For further information, please email foodnetwork@dh.gsi.gov.uk or call 020 7972 1372.

Your pledge delivery plan

Shortly after signing up, partners will be asked to provide pledge delivery plans, laying out how they intend to meet each of the pledges they have signed up to.  They will have up to 500 words to describe their plans for each pledge they are signed up to.  All delivery plans will be published on this website.

Reporting progress on your pledge

Partners will be asked to report on their progress by the end of April each year.  For some pledges, partners will be asked to report using pre-defined quantitative measures, while for others they will be asked for a narrative update.  Further information on the reporting arrangements for each pledge is available.  All annual updates will be published on this website.

We are currently developing a web-based system that will allow partners to complete their delivery plans and annual updates online from 2013.

Partners signed up to this pledge.

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