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UK to lead WHO network to champion sugar and calorie reduction

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Speaking yesterday (13 September) at the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, revealed that the framework will invite countries across Europe to take action to cut sugar and calorie intake.

“The WHO EU region covers around 50 countries, meaning that it extends beyond the European Commission’s framework for action and would have a much wider reach,”​ the UK Government – which recently exited the European Union – said.

UK’s ‘world-leading’ expertise in HFSS restrictions

Announcing the initiative, the UK Government said it had agreed to use its ‘world-leading’ expertise in domestic sugar and calorie reduction to support the efforts of European neighbours.

“It’s a testament to the success of our pioneering work in the UK to help people eat more healthily that we have been chosen to lead this programme,”​ Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid said. “We will work closely with our European partners to challenge the food industry to reduce sugar and calories in its products – reducing obesity, relieving pressure on health services and increasing our resilience to COVID-19 and any future pandemics.”

Public Health England (PHE) introduced voluntary targets to reduce sugar, salt and calories in 2014. Subsequent policy has built on this foundation, including the country’s childhood obesity programme and the planned introduction of tougher restrictions to high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) marketing and promotions​.

The UK’s new HFSS rules will impose media and promotional restrictions on ‘unhealthy’ products. Volume promotions, such as buy-one-get-one-frees and two-for-one deals, will no longer be allowed for these items. A ban will come into force on HFSS products being placed in secondary promotional locations in stores, such as end of aisle displays, store entrances and checkouts. Marketing of HFSS SKUs will no longer be permitted in digital and pre-watershed TV.

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UK to lead WHO network to champion sugar and calorie reduction