Calorie levels in children foods targeted in new attack on obesity

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-19 02:52:38|Editor: yan
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LONDON, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Britain's Department of Health announced Friday funding of 6.5 million U.S. dollars for a new obesity policy research unit at the University College London (UCL).

The unit will provide a resource for long term research into childhood obesity, a problem that has seen 1 in 3 children either overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school.

More children in Britain than ever before are also being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, some as young as 7, in a disease linked to eating.

The funding was announced as Public Health England announced the next stage of a world-beating plan to tackle obesity in the young.

In a joint statement PHE and the Department of Health (DoH) said evidence is to be considered on children's calorie consumption, with an ambition for a calorie reduction program to remove excess calories from the foods children consume the most.

Ready meals, pizzas, burgers, savoury snacks and sandwiches are the kinds of foods likely to be included in the new program, said PHE.

Health officials say over the past year real progress has been made on reducing the level of sugar in many products.

Philip Dunne, Minister of State for Health said: "Too many of our children are growing up obese, which can lead to serious health complications. With a third of children leaving primary school obese we must take a comprehensive approach and now focus on excess calories."

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, said: "A third of children leave primary school overweight or obese and an excess of calories is the root cause of this. We will work with the food companies and retailers to tackle this as the next critical step in combating our childhood obesity problem."

Selbie said PHE will publish evidence in early 2018 and will then consult with the food industry, trade bodies and health non-governmental organisations to develop guidance and timelines for a national calorie reduction program.

The new obesity research unit at UCL will look to develop a deeper understanding on the causes of childhood obesity, including marketing to children and families, social inequalities, and the early years of childhood.

Professor Russell Viner from the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, said: "Obesity is one of the greatest health concerns of our time and we welcome this considerable and very timely investment from the government. Preventing obesity in early life is key to turning the tide on this modern epidemic."

An estimated 40,000 deaths a year in England are attributable to being overweight or obese, representing over 10 percent of all deaths. Officials say an estimated 70,000 premature deaths in the UK could be avoided each year if diets matched nutritional guidelines.