Meals sold in supermarkets and restaurants could be subject to calorie caps under plans drawn up by Public Health England.
The regulations, first reported by the Telegraph, would force the food industry to adapt offerings, including limiting:
- sandwiches and main meal salads to 550 calories
- ready meals to 544 calories
- pizzas to 1040 calories
- restaurant main courses to 951 calories
- vol-au-vents to 134 calories
For context, Pret’s Posh Cheddar & Pickle baguette is 621 calories and a plain burger and fries from Byron totals 1020 calories.
Obesity costs the NHS around £27 billion a year and is a leading cause of preventable illness.
Research from Health Survey for England released earlier this month found 64% of UK adults are overweight or obese.
This includes 5% of women and 2% of men who are morbidly obese – meaning they had a body mass index (BMI) score of more than 40.
In 1993, when the survey began, just 1% of women were classed as morbidly obese, according to the data from NHS Digital.
It reached 5% for the first time in 2017.
Meanwhile the survey also revealed how children whose parents are obese are also more likely to be obese themselves.
More than a quarter (28%) of children of an obese mother were also obese, compared with 8% of children whose mother was not overweight or obese, the figures show.
And 24% of children of an obese father were also obese, compared with 9% of children where the father was not overweight or obese.
Overall, three in 10 children aged two to 15 in England were overweight or obese in 2017.
But the plans have drawn criticism. Chris Snowdon, of the right-wing think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, told the Telegraph: “These demands are worthy of Nero or Caligula.
“The calorie caps are arbitrary, unscientific and unrealistic.
“It is reasonable to offer advice on daily calorie consumption but setting limits on individual meals is insane.”