1. ITV Report

Britain needs to go on a diet, health officials warn

Health officials are seeking to target pizzas, takeaways and ready meals, warning that Britain needs to go on a diet, after it emerged that some of the nation's children are eating the equivalent of an extra meal a day in calories.

Public Health England (PHE) warned that obesity is becoming "the norm" as it challenged the food industry to cut a fifth of calories from popular family foods over the next six years.

As part of PHE's campaign to reduce the rising tide of childhood obesity, the health body has called on restaurants, retailers and manufacturers to slash the amount of calories in foods by 20% by 2024, PHE said.

"Britain needs to go on a diet," Duncan Selbie, chief executive at PHE, said.

"The simple truth is on average we need to eat less. Children and adults routinely eat too many calories and it's why so many are overweight or obese."

He said his comments were "not an attack on overweight folk", saying it was a matter both for the food industry and and individuals to make smarter choices.

Some children are eating the equivalent of an extra meal a day Credit: PA

Five tips for healthy living

  • Get active and keep fit - A healthy, balanced diet is essential in maintaining a healthy weight, which is an important part of overall good health.
  • Don't skip breakfast - A healthy breakfast provides some of the vitamins and minerals we need for good health. Research has also found that people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight.
  • Watch your salt intake - Adults should try to eat less than 6g of salt a day. Too much salt can raise your blood pressure and people with high blood pressure are more likely develop heart disease or have a stroke.
  • Cut down on sugar and saturated fats - Too much saturated fat can increase blood cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of developing heart disease. High sugar intake increases your risk of obesity and tooth decay so cut down on sugary foods and drinks.
  • Eat more fish - Aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week including at least one portion of oily fish. Oily fish contains omega-3 fats, which may help to prevent heart disease.
A healthy balanced diet includes lots of vegetables Credit: PA

The call comes after PHE found that some children are eating the equivalent of an extra meal a day in calories.

It has estimated that some overweight or obese boys are consuming up to 500 additional calories a day compared to their normal weight peers.

For girls this is almost 300 calories, experts found.

PHE said that the food industry could cut calories by changing the ingredients of their products, reducing portion size or changing their marketing tactics.

The challenge involves 13 popular foods that families eat including: pizzas, savoury snacks, ready meals - including read-made sandwiches, some meat products, cooking sauces, chips and crisps and "composite salads" such as hummus or coleslaw.

PHE's chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone said that these food groups had the "lion's share" of calories.

She added: "To get traction on this, the big-selling things need to change.

"A few healthy options on the end of a menu won't help solve the nation's obesity problem - we need the regular, every day products to change."