Three quarters (75 per cent) of British adults want food manufacturers to reduce the amount of saturated fat, salt and added sugar in their products to make it easier for people to eat more healthily, according to a new survey from Diabetes UK. Sixty-nine per cent of 18 – 24 year olds say they think food manufacturers should reduce the amount of saturated fat, added sugar and salt in their products and this number rises to 80 per cent of people aged 65 and over, according to a ComRes survey commissioned by the charity. People across all social groups felt equally strongly on the issue, with no difference between people who earned more or less, or whether they worked in the public or private sector.
Diabetes UK is urging the Government to include mandatory targets for food manufacturers to make their products healthier in its Childhood Obesity Strategy, which is due out in the coming weeks and says the survey shows that the measure would receive overwhelming public support.The charity says it is imperative that the Government implements the measure as it would help to limit calorie intake and so would make it easier for people to eat more healthily. The food industry has reduced levels of salt in food significantly over the last 10 years, and now it’s time for them to tackle high levels of sugar and fat as well. Along with getting food manufacturers to make their foods healthier, Diabetes UK is calling on the Government to introduce a 20 per cent tax on sugar sweetened soft drinks and to restrict the marketing of unhealthy foods before the 9pm watershed to reduce exposure to children. These measures are also supported by the Obesity Health Alliance, a grouping of 26 charities and medical organisations, which includes Diabetes UK.
Type 1 diabetes is not linked to lifestyle
Currently, almost two thirds of adults in the UK and almost a third of children in the UK in their final year of primary school are overweight or obese, which means that they are at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. This is unlike Type 1 diabetes which is not linked to lifestyle and cannot be prevented. Diabetes UK has warned that if the Government doesn’t get better at helping people to maintain a healthy weight and reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, the number of people living with the condition will continue to soar and we will see even more people suffering preventable complications such as blindness, amputation and stroke, which also cost the NHS a staggering £8.8 billion every year. The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, a joint initiative from Diabetes UK, Public Health England, and NHS England, which will support people in reducing their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, is an important first step, but more needs to be done to help people make sustained lifestyle changes so they can live long and healthy lives.
If get this right we could save lives
Chris Askew, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, said: “Being overweight and obese are some of the most potent risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, which is why it is essential that we have measures in place to help people make healthier choices and lead healthier lives. Too often making the healthy choice has become the difficult choice.“The Government’s forthcoming Childhood Obesity Strategy offers a perfect opportunity to get this right. Mandatory targets for food manufacturers to make the content of their products healthier must be at the heart of the strategy as this will go a long way to making it easier for people to eat more healthily. The fact that the overwhelming majority of the British public want food manufacturers to make their products healthier shows that the Government has nothing to lose and everything to gain in implementing this measure. “To ensure the strategy is fully effective in stemming the increasing rise of obesity and protecting child health the Government should also introduce a tax on sugar sweetened soft drinks and restrict the marketing of unhealthy foods to children. If we get this right, we can save millions of lives and significantly reduce costs to our already stretched health service.”