Foodservice must fight the flab

Forget the barriers and the lack of powerful policy, it’s time for action on obesity reports Amy Fetzer.

You wouldn’t expect an event about a widely panned policy instrument to have an upbeat, positive vibe, but this week’s Footprint Forum: Fat Load of Use - Foodservice and the Childhood Obesity Strategy, in association with CH&Co Group, had just that.

With lively debate and insights from both the speakers, panel and floor it concluded that while the Childhood Obesity Strategy might be a study in wasted opportunity, it’s time to start finding solutions, rather than focussing on policy flaws, and on the barriers to transforming out-of-home food.

With input from experts including nutritionist and broadcaster Amanda Ursell, CH&Co Group’s deputy chief executive Caroline Fry, head of nutrition Eretia O’Kennedy from the Jamie Oliver Group and Jo Newstead from the Department of Health, the forum concluded that the Childhood Obesity Strategy can play a role by providing a framework for industry.

The theory is that we’ve been given a looser agreement with more flexibility to give industry the space to innovate to find stretching and workable solutions for each specific player. This is instead of everyone being bound by a potentially weaker, one-size-fits-all approach that would need softer targets to make them applicable to all.

The debate concluded that this means we have to start viewing the issues differently. This ranges from looking at how we can change the physical foodservice environment to guide people towards healthier choices, to finding counter-intuitive and shocking health angles for the media to ensure stories about reformulation and reduced portion size focus on the urgent need to improve consumer health, rather than on consumers being ripped off.

Full report to come in the December issue of Footprint Magazine.

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