Public health experts say today’s announcement on changes to food labelling which will make it easier for people to monitor the amount of salt, sugar and fat they eat will help to tackle Cumbria’s obesity crisis.
The estimated cost to the NHS in Cumbria from diseases related to unhealthy weight is around £150m each year.
The change, which is set to be introduced next year, will see a combination of guideline daily amounts, colour coding and ‘high, medium or low”‘ wording used to show how much fat, salt and sugar and calories are in each product.
The scheme will be voluntary, but ministers have said they are confident the food industry will back the changes. Talks are due to take place later this week over the exact design of the labels.
The announcement follows a government consultation earlier this year which Cumbria’s public health team used, to press for a clearer food labelling system.
On current trends, 9 out of 10 children are set to grow up with dangerous levels of fat in their bodies.
Jane Muller, associate director of public health in Cumbria, said: “This is a big leap forward in the fight to curb super-sized Cumbria.
“The current food labelling system is confusing and inconsistent, depending on where you shop and what you buy.
“A standard system will help people to identify at a glance how much salt, sugar and fat they are putting in their shopping trolley.
“Food labelling is not a sliver bullet, and it is still up to individuals to make sure they combine a healthy diet and exercise, but it will make it much easier for shoppers to make informed decisions about what they eat.
“As this is a voluntary system it will reply upon food industry to act as one to introduce the changes. We hope the government will reserve the option to introduce a compulsory scheme if food manufacturers drag their heels.”