Restaurants to get their just desserts in war on obesity


Efforts by restaurants, pubs and cafes to make their food and drink healthier will be compared publicly as part of the Government's bid to tackle obesity, it has been reported.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told food companies that as eating out "is no longer a treat" they needed to be part of reforms to reduce the nation's waistline, according to The Times.

He wants to encourage food outlets outside the home, such as big chain restaurants, takeaways and fast food retailers, to cut sugar and reduce the size of desserts, cakes and pastries.

Consumers will be able to check the companies' efforts on a website, although exactly how they will be compared has not been decided.

It comes alongside food producers being asked to cut sugar in key products by 20% over the next five years.

In a private meeting Mr Hunt told 100 food companies that "doing nothing was not an option", according to The Times.

He said: "Going out to eat is no longer a treat. It's a regular habit for many families and is contributing significantly to the extra calories and sugar that we all consume on a daily basis.

"We can't ignore the changing habits of consumers. This means we expect the whole of the out-of-home sector -- coffee shops, pubs and family restaurants, quick service restaurants, takeaways, cafes, contract caterers and mass catering suppliers -- to step up and deliver on sugar reduction."

The Health Secretary told the meeting that people are consuming more than a fifth of their sugar intake outside the home and a quarter of families took children to fast food outlets each week.

Chief executive of Public Health England Duncan Selbie told the meeting that the new measures were needed to improve nutrition across the board.

"We need a level playing field -- if the food and drink bought in cafes, coffee shops and restaurants does not also get reformulated and portions rethought then it will remain often significantly higher in sugar and bigger in portion than those being sold in supermarkets and convenience shops.

"This will not help the overall industry to help us all make healthier choices."