Health officials in the United Kingdom are doubling down in their efforts to reduce childhood obesity. Their new plan is to lessen children's caloric intake by reducing the amount of calories in food items most eaten by children.
The Next Stage
UK Department of Health and Public Health England recently announced the next stage of their serious efforts to combat childhood obesity. What they plan to do is to set targets to reduce the amount of excess calories in popular food items. This includes ready-to-eat meals, burgers, pizzas, and other savory food items.
To clarify, accepting and following the target caloric reductions will be merely voluntary for the food industry. However, officials at the government's advisory board are prepared to legislate accordingly should they refuse to respond.
Included in the plan is the $6.4 million funding for a new obesity policy research unit at the University College London. The research unit will be conducting comprehensive studies on childhood obesity, which is a problem for 1 in 3 children who are either overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school.
Following Sugar Reductions
The latest initiatives to reduce calorie intake follow in the footsteps of previous efforts to reduce sugar in food products. As it stands, the Soft Drinks Industry Levy has already been passed into law, with a comprehensive sugar reduction program set to take effect by 2020, the main point of which is to reduce 20 percent of sugar content in food items by the set target date.
Authorities pushed through with the new calorie intake reduction program because although sugar reduction was a significant first step to remedying the problem of childhood obesity, they believe that calorie overconsumption will continue to be a problem if not tackled with further action.
In the press release, the DoH and PHE stated that adults are currently consuming an average of 200 calories over the suggested daily calorie consumption, and what's worrying is that children are closely following in the adults' footsteps especially since food sources are more accessible than before.
Currently, more and more children in the UK are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, some of them as young as 7 years old. What's more, it is estimated that 40,000 deaths in the UK can be attributed to being overweight or obese.
"We will work with the food companies and retailers to tackle this as the next critical step in combating our childhood obesity problem," said Duncan Selbie, PHE chief executive.
Childhood Obesity In The United States
Since the 1970s, the rate of childhood obesity in the United States has more than tripled. About 1 in 5 children between the ages of 6 and 19 are obese.
Some causes of obesity pointed out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include genetics, metabolism, eating and physical activity behaviors, social and individual psychology, and other environmental factors.