Public 'need to be more honest about eating habits'


Dame Sally Davies: "People are not honest with themselves about what they're eating and drinking "

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People need to be more honest about how much they eat and drink if obesity levels are to be cut, ministers say.

The message formed a central theme of the new obesity strategy for England as the government tried to stress the importance of personal responsibility.

In doing so, it rejected calls to introduce legislation to change behaviour, such as a "fat tax".

But the strategy was labelled "pathetic and stupid" by experts, who warned it would do little to solve the problem.

Instead of proposing using regulation, the strategy talked about creating the right environment for individuals to make healthier choices.

This included getting councils to use their powers to encourage more physical activity through schemes such as cycling networks and green spaces.

It also said industry had a role to play and promised to build on the responsibility deal, which was announced at the start of this year and saw private firms sign up to a series of pledges, including introducing calorie counts on menus and reducing salt levels in food.

Reverse the tide

Mr 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."

When asked about why the government was not more keen on legislation, he said by working in partnership, more could be achieved faster.

However, he admitted officials would continue to monitor the international evidence where countries were trying tougher legislation.

New daily calorie guidelines

  • Alongside the obesity strategy, ministers also announced new recommended levels of energy intake following a review by advisers.
  • It is the first time for 20 years that they have been changed.
  • Despite calling for people to eat less, the guidelines actually increase the amount people can eat to maintain a healthy weight.
  • For a man of average height, the daily amount has increased from 2,550 calories to 2,605.
  • For women it has increased from 1,940 to 2,079.
  • But before you get too carried away, officials stressed that most people are already eating more than the new guidelines.

More than 60% of adults and 23% of four to five-year-olds are overweight or obese in England, making it one of the most overweight nations in Europe.

As part of the strategy, Mr Lansley said the government was looking for rates to start falling by 2020.

To achieve this, individuals need to be honest about what they are eating, Professor Sally Davies, the chief medical officer said.

"It is about what we eat, how we cook it and about portion size."

She said one of the problems was that people were not even honest with themselves about their diets, never mind health professionals.

Figures set out in the strategy suggest that the average adult consumes 10% more calories than they should.

But Professor Philip James, of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, said it was a "stupid" and "pathetic" response to the problem.

"It is not simply a question of personal responsibility. There is an environmental problem in terms of the food system we have."

He went on to say that the junk food industry "manipulated" individuals into consuming their products and that was why legislation was needed.

And Charlie Powell, campaigns director of the Children's Food Campaign, said: "This is a deeply disappointing and utterly inadequate response which represents a squandered opportunity to address the obesity crisis.

"High in rhetoric and lacking in substance, it is nothing less than an abdication of the government's responsibility to protect public health."

Shadow public health minister Diane Abbott added: "This is very disappointing. We need to do much more to tackle this problem."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    Responding to earlier comments that "It's not hard", it can be incredibly hard. Having been fit and heathily til my early 20s, had kids, lost weight successfully, worked as a weight loss consultant and trained in the sport industry, knowing exactly what I need to do, I now have an immense struggle with my weight. It's a mind thing and can be the hardest battle ever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    288.Up2snuff entered and in a BMI Calculator

    15 stone 1 is obese. sorry about that extra pound.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    The ACE study made it clear. Google it. Many disease states are linked to unhappy childhoods. The UK is rated as having the unhappiest children amongst the top 24 developed countries. Unresolved issues lead to 'risk' behaviours. Rather than blaming the un-well we need to address both current behaviour patterns and the cultural attitude towards children with SUPPORT not BLAME.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    If the Government hadnt allowed fast food outlets and supermarket chains to but up any free parcel of land and disgorge their contents then we wouldnt have obesity. Money as usual profit first, then whinge about the consequences. If our own high st and corner shops returned with their healthy not wealthy ranges we would be better off. But of course Camerons revenue would fall.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    Has it ever occurred to all these people carrying out these studies and creating these advisories that most people really dont care. And for all those people that well you'll be healthier and live longer, i'll live as long as I live and enjoy it rather than worry about my diet, damage from drinking & smoking and general lifestyle just to add a few years on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    Fat,booze,fags,bad,bad,bad.OK we get it! Message understood! Change the record!

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.


    No quite frankly. I already pay a fortune in duty because I smoke and drink, when they take me to hospital in my old age I'll probably own half the machines I'm hooked up to!

    I completely fail to see why I should have to pay more for a burger just because some people eat too much.

    You can't tax people into being healthy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    I think it's easier for some people than others to drop weight - as 286 states it's not the cheapest option to buy healthy food and being a student I can't always afford the healthiest items. That said, just by cutting out takeaways totally and going to the gym I've dropped a stone and a half in 2011. It is possible but people need to commit to losing weight for it to work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    honesty has nothing to do with it. I don't tell anyone else about what i eat. what the change of article name proves is that authorities are #### scared of telling people what they dont want to hear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    Before these half-wits dictate to the general public, Lansley and Co should look amongst their own ranks for porkers, Eric Pickles anyone? Doc Fox?

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    re #263
    Please enter those stats in a BMI checker and observe the result.

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    Phil Close, I totally agree with you. I am no expert in this issue but, although I am not obese, find it incredibly difficult to control my eating. I agree that it should be treated in a similar way to alcohol or drug addiction because it is an addiction. Nobody chooses to be fat, tired and unhealthy. I can, at the moment, control my eating but can see how it could become out of control.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    275- Really?! Because our fridge is stocked up with fresh fruit, vegetables, chicken, fish etc, and compared to our upstairs neighbour with two kids and a hubby who fills a massive freezer full of processed items 'n' chips we spend a fortune, just for the two of us. I buy fresh despite the cost, so I'm not 'making excuses', but healthy is more expensive in my experience.

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    If you are fat, you are fat. It's that simple. To lose weight, eat less and move more. Some people do have genuine medical reasons for being overweight, but these are few and far between. For the majority, it just boils down to lifestyle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    I lost 8st over 18 months & I have realised that I am addicted to food. I would eat in secret feeling guilty but I still did it, even when I couldn't get clothes to fit & was >25 st.

    Comments like "people need to look after themselves" indicates a lack of understanding of the problem: we need education programmes for healthy eating & exercise etc and support for those who wish to lose weight.

  • Comment number 283.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    I abhor the attitudes of those who say 'I'll eat what I want." I do not want my taxes going on treating the results of your piggish lifestyle choices. That is the problem with much of society; greedy and gluttonous beyond belief with a selfish 'me, me, me' attitude with no thought of the effects and consequences of their disgusting, gorging eating habits on other taxpayers who bear the brunt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    233. RandomDancer89
    A typical warped view.
    as someone said, a few post's ago, Tell an anorexic "Just eat more"
    As you say "How hard can it be ?"

  • Comment number 280.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    As far as I understand it Fructose and glucose are handled via different metabolic pathways.

    Google it there is plenty of information on this.


Page 18 of 32


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