U.K. government plan encourages healthier lifestyles

by Eric Schroeder
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LONDON — The U.K. Department of Health on Wednesday introduced a £372 million ($732 million) cross-government initiative designed to encourage healthier lifestyles. The program, which includes a £75 million ($148 million) marketing campaign to support and empower parents to make changes to their children’s diet and increase levels of physical activity, will be launched in the summer and will form part of a wider strategy that includes other aspects such as food labeling and the promotion of exercise.

Although the strategy does not specifically mention grain-based foods, it does promote healthier food choices, including reducing the consumption of foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt and increasing the consumption of fruit and vegetables.

"Tackling obesity is the most significant public and personal health challenge facing our society," said Health Secretary Alan Johnson. "The core of the problem is simple — we eat too much and we do too little exercise. The solution is more complex. From the nature of the food that we eat, to the built environment, through to the way our children lead their lives — it is harder to avoid obesity in the modern environment.

"It is not the government’s role to hector or lecture people, but we do have a duty to support them in leading healthier lifestyles. This will only succeed if the problem is recognized, owned and addressed in every part of society."

In regards to promoting healthier food choices, the Department of Health said it has set out a Healthy Food Code of Good Practice that will be finalized in partnership with the food and drink industry. The code will include proposals to develop "a single, simple and effective approach to food labeling, and to challenge the industry (including restaurants and food outlets) to support individuals and families to reduce their consumption of saturated fat, salt and sugar."

For the full report, visit www.dh.gov.uk.

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