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Denial about diets

13th October 2011

Ministers have issued a stark warning about diet as a new obesity strategy for England was unveiled.

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They have warned that people need to be more honest about how much they eat and drink if obesity levels are to be cut.

A central theme of the new obesity strategy was the importance of personal responsibility and creating the right environment for individuals to make healthier choices rather than using regulation.

Measures included getting councils to encourage more physical activity through schemes such as cycling networks and green spaces and urging industry to play a role with pledges such as introducing calorie counts on menus and reducing salt levels in food.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “We have to halt and then reverse the tide of obesity in this country. Government has a role to play, but it is clear that we cannot do this alone.”

Figures show that in England more than 60% of adults and 23% of four and five year old children are overweight or obese.

With the government looking to see obesity rates falling by 2020, chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies said people needed to look at portion sizes.

However, Professor Philip James of the International Association for the Study of Obesity was critical of the plans.

He said: “It is not simply a question of personal responsibility. There is an environmental problem in terms of the food system we have.”

The Children’s Food Campaign said the plans were an “utterly inadequate response which represents a squandered opportunity to address the obesity crisis.”

 

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