UK calorie consumption creeping upwards

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Towards the end of 2017, a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found the UK to be the most obese country in western Europe. The UK Government has released measures in hope of combating rising obesity rates.

The fat man of Europe

The official definition of obesity is that a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI) is 30 or over. The OECD report states that 26.9% of the UK population in 2015 were obese.

Scarily, it was calculated that obesity in the UK had risen by 92% since the 1990s. This clearly demonstrates the severity of this public health crisis.

Twenty percent target

In order to combat this serious problem, Public Health England (PHE) announced various measures to be implemented in the near future. The strategy aims to reduce people’s excessive calorie intake in the UK, thereby reducing both childhood and adult obesity.

New research has shown that overweight or obese boys and girls take in as many as 500 and 290 calories over the recommended daily amount, respectively. In light of this evidence, PHE has challenged the food industry to cut calories in food by 20% by 2024.

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of PHE, said: “The simple truth is on average we need to eat less. Children and adults routinely eat too many calories and it’s why so many are overweight or obese. Industry can help families by finding innovative ways to lower the calories in the food we all enjoy and promoting UK business leadership on the world stage in tackling obesity.”

The target set by PHE covers 13 food categories including pizzas, ready meals, sandwiches and savoury snacks. There are various different ways in which businesses can reduce the calorie count in their products. For example, reducing portion sizes or altering product recipes. Businesses should also consider promoting lower calorie products to consumers.

If businesses succeed and meet this ambitious goal, it is estimated that over 35,000 premature deaths could be avoided and £9 billion could be saved in NHS healthcare costs over 25 years.


The NHS ‘One You’ campaign has recently added the 400-600-600 target. This works out as around 400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch and 600 for dinner. This has been introduced to tackle the so-called ‘calorie creep’ that has been going on in adult consumption in the UK.

Major companies have already got behind this move, namely McDonald’s, Starbucks and Subway, and are planning on signposting foods to aid customers with their food choices whilst keeping the calorie count in mind.

It’s time for the UK to face up to its increasing obesity problem and industries need to get behind these government movements to make a serious impact on the country’s health.