New report says government is ‘not serious’ about improving Britain’s diet

The British government has failed to tackle poor nutrition and diet, and should do more to take public health nutrition into consideration in every area of policy, says a report by the UK Coronary Prevention Group, a charity dedicated to preventing heart disease through healthy lifestyles, in association with the World Obesity Federation.

The report ‘Nutrient Profiling: Changing the food of Britain’ was published on March 13th 2015. You can find a briefing paper here and the full report here.

The report urges greater use of techniques such as nutrient profiling to inform and evaluate the likely impact of government policies. Since the 1990s, the UK has been promoting five principle dietary guidelines for public health (for total fat, saturated fats, sugar, salt, and fruits and vegetables). Nutrient profiling is a method for evaluating specific foods for their contribution towards achieving or undermining adherence to these guidelines.

The UKCPG report has also identified examples of projects that undermine good health because they were not subjected to a nutrient profiling. These included public grants made to a number of food companies both large and small, including Nestlé, Mondelēz (formerly Kraft-Cadbury) and Pepsico, to help them develop their snack and confectionery businesses.

Since 2010, the policy agenda for nutrition in the UK has been largely dominated by the voluntary approach promoted by Andrew Lansley, then Secretary of State for Health. The ‘Public Health Responsibility Deal’ is based on committees of business, NGO and public health representatives tasked with developing targets for voluntary action in four topic areas: health at work, alcohol, physical activity and food. Looking ahead at the 2015 election, the writers of the report give a set of proposals for stronger policy initiatives, from better public food services to investment in research, from fast food menus to food company contracts.