New diet stats make obesity strategy hard to swallow

Young children are consuming almost three times more sugar (13%) than the recommended daily maximum (5%), according to new national statistics published this week.

The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) also showed that teenagers (15%) and adults (12%) are having far more sugar than the recommended maximums.

The survey, covering the period between 2012 and 2014, also confirmed that people continue to eat too much saturated fat and not enough fruit, vegetables and fibre.

Average saturated fat intake for adults aged 19 to 64 is 12.7% of daily calorie intake, above the 11% recommendation. Meanwhile, only 27% of adults, 35% of older adults and 8% of 11 to 18-year-olds meet the ‘five-a-day’ recommendation for fruit and vegetables.

The results did show that consumption of sugary drinks amongst children aged between four- and 10-years-old has fallen from 130ml to 100ml.

The Food and Drink Federation said the findings offer a “timely reminder” of the importance of taking a whole-diet approach to improving the nation’s health. A spokesman highlighted up-to-date figures showing how sugar taken home from soft drinks fell 13% between 2012 and 2016.

Campaigners at Action on Sugar jumped on the NDNS findings, and called on Theresa May, the Prime Minister, to rethink “her pathetic childhood obesity plan”.

Published only last month, the strategy lacks the expected restrictions on the marketing and promotion of products high in saturated fat, sugar and salt. The plan does include a tax on sugary drinks.

This week, the government also confirmed that it will develop “clearer visual labelling” to show the levels of free sugars in foods. In its official response to a Health Committee report, the government said it is considering several options, one of which is the use of “teaspoons of sugar” on labels – a concept that has been backed by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and local councils.

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