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Flagging up calorie counts 'may tackle obesity'

04 November 2015 09:59

Many UK adults face obesity problems

Many UK adults face obesity problems

Efforts to tackle Britain's obesity epidemic could be boosted by publishing calorie counts in large print on food and drink labelling and restaurant menus, according to an expert in metabolic medicine.

Professor Naveed Sattar, of the University of Glasgow, says he believes with most people tending to underestimate their calorie intake, such a move could help change their eating habits.

He says introducing a tax on drinks and other products with a high sugar content could help the fight against obesity by reducing consumption and cutting the price of healthier alternatives.

But he believes most people are overweight because they eat too much fat and says displaying the calorie counts in large lettering could be an easier way to fight obesity.

Doing so, he says, could result in people having a re-think when they see the latte coffee that they had planned to buy contains 250 calories and the accompanying cream bun another 350. His remarks were made to the Sunday Herald.

Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of several health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes and heart disease, things which holidaymakers can cover by taking out a medical travel insurance policy.

Professor Sattar says if boldly displaying the nutritional information succeeds in encouraging enough consumers to seek healthier options, it could also result in profit-seeking manufacturers producing more alternatives with lower calorie contents.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government says while it has no plans to implement a sugar tax, the effect on health of levies on fatty foods, sugary drinks and sugar is the subject of three separate reviews.

She adds that the Scottish Government is already spending millions of pounds on various projects aimed at encouraging healthy eating, improving people's diets and cutting obesity.

In 2012, the UK's adult obesity rate was put at just over 23%, a proportion experts fear could increase by a third by the end of the current decade.

In Scotland, the adult obesity rate was said to be just over 27% in 2013 with nearly two-thirds of adults classed as overweight.

Earlier this year, a report estimated that obesity could be costing Scotland more than £4 billion each year.