The government is set to introduce calorie targets in order to reduce overeating and tackle the obesity crisis in England.
It is believed that people are consuming 200 to 300 calories more than they need to, and this measure is intended to combat this issue. The targets are expected to be set by Public Health England over the course of the next 12 months.
The targets will be voluntary, but the government has said that it was willing to enforce legislature if there was not sufficient change.
These targets will work alongside, and be modelled on, the sugar-reduction programme introduced last year, which committed the industry to lowering sugar content in certain foods by 20 per cent by 2020.
PHE chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone said good progress was being made on the sugar target and it was now time to consider tackling calories.
“We have a serious problem – one in three leave primary school either obese or overweight,” she said.
“If we want to tackle this we have to look at calories. There are a number of ways it can be done – we can reduce the size of the products or change the ingredients.”
Caroline Cerny, of the Obesity Health Alliance, said it welcomed the introduction of targets, but said: “get away with bombarding children with adverts that we know encourage unhealthy food choices”.
“Failing to tackle this area is significantly undermining the impact of the child obesity plan. After one year, it is scraping along with a C grade, rather than topping the class with an A star,” she added.
A spokeswoman for the Food and Drink Federation said it welcomed “broadening” the focus away from only sugar.
“Singling out the role of individual ingredients and food groups does not help consumers to make good choices about their diet, lifestyle or general health.
“Our industry has a proud track record of reformulation to remove salt, fat and sugar from food and drinks. This work will continue as we rise to the challenge of PHE’s sugar reduction targets and engage with this new focus on calories.”