Public ‘need to be more honest about eating habits’

People need to be more honest about how much they eat and drink if obesity levels are to be cut, ministers say.

The message formed a central theme of the new obesity strategy for England as the government tried to stress the importance of personal responsibility.

In doing so, it rejected calls to introduce legislation to change behaviour, such as a “fat tax”.

But the strategy was labelled “pathetic and stupid” by experts, who warned it would do little to solve the problem.

Instead of proposing using regulation, the strategy talked about creating the right environment for individuals to make healthier choices.

This included getting councils to use their powers to encourage more physical activity through schemes such as cycling networks and green spaces.

It also said industry had a role to play and promised to build on the responsibility deal, which was announced at the start of this year and saw private firms sign up to a series of pledges, including introducing calorie counts on menus and reducing salt levels in food.

Reverse the tide

Mr Lansley said: “We have to halt and then reverse the tide of obesity in this country.

“Government has a role to play, but it is clear that we cannot do this alone.”

When asked about why the government was not more keen on legislation, he said by working in partnership, more could be achieved faster.

However, he admitted officials would continue to monitor the international evidence where countries were trying tougher legislation.

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