Mars has said it will reduce the calorie count of its chocolate bars to 250 by 2013
5:31am UK, Saturday March 24, 2012
Some of Britain’s biggest food and drink manufacturers, including Mars and Coca-Cola, have promised to cut the calorie content of their products.
Seventeen companies have agreed to the Responsibility Deal, part of a Government initiative to combat obesity in Britain.
Coca-Cola Great Britain says it will cut calories by 30% in some of its soft drinks by 2014, while Mars say it will reduce the calorie count of their mars chocolate bars from 260 to 250 calories by 2013.
Tesco says it will remove 1.8 billion calories from its soft drinks and, along with other supermarkets, will expand their range of low-calorie meals.
However, some healthcare professionals say it means almost nothing.
Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra told Sky News: “This translates to, for every individual, cutting down on 16 dry roasted peanuts per day. So the public can think for themselves, do they really think this is going to impact on a massive public health disaster? It’s the food and drink industry paying lip service to the Government.
“I think the impact of this will be absolutely negligible. What needs to be introduced is legislation. I think legislation that has an impact.
“The Prime Minister has an open goal to show he is a man of substance who cares more about our children’s health than the profits of food manufacturers.”
A third of 10 and 11-year-olds are now either overweight or obese in Britain, as are more than 60% of adults.
It has led to suggestions to introduce a tax on unhealthy foods.
Dr Susan Jebb, chair of the Responsibility Deal Food Network, said: “I think this is an important element of an overall strategy to tackle obesity. We’ve got really solid commitments today we have got to give time to see if those really pan out.
“We need more companies to come on board too. There may be a place for regulation but it would be in parallel with, attacking other elements of the problem. I think voluntary agreements have to be given an opportunity to work.”