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Obesity 'becoming seen as normal', warns medical chief

Being overweight is now seen as normal, according to the Chief Medical Officer Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Being overweight or obese is in danger of becoming seen as normal, the Chief Medical Officer for England has warned.

Dame Sally Davies said she was "increasingly concerned that society may be normalising being overweight".

The Chief Medical Officer said consumption of sugary drinks was contributing to obesity. Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Her annual report on the state of the nation's health said excessive consumption of sugar, particularly in soft drinks, was one of the factors behind rising obesity.

Dame Sally is calling on food and drink manufacturers to tweak their products so they have less added sugar.

She also said a 'sugar tax' may need to be considered if the industry's efforts to make products healthier are not successful.

Surprising foods packed with sugar

Consumers are being urged to cut their sugar intake to 5% per day by the World Health Organisation.

Health campaigners Action on Sugar have warned some foods are deceptive about the amount of sugar they contained.

  • Some fat free yoghurt can contain up to five teaspoons of refined sugar
  • Tomato based pasta sauce was found to have three teaspoons of sugar per jar
  • One tablespoon of shop bought white coleslaw was found to have four teaspoons of sugar
  • "Enhanced" or flavoured water was found to have as much as 15g of sugar
  • Some processed bread was found to have as much as 3g of sugar

Read: Health experts back halving of sugar consumption

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Health experts back halving of sugar consumption

Health experts have backed a move by the World Health Organisation to reduce sugar intake from 10 per cent to 5 per cent of total energy intake per day.

Experts have backed the WHO's plans to recommend halving daily sugar consumption
Experts have backed the WHO's plans to recommend halving daily sugar consumption Credit: Thomas Eisenhuth/DPA/Press Association Images

The WHO has argued that halving sugar intake would bring "additional health benefits", but experts have called on the WHO to make their 5 per cent recommendation official - it is currently only a draft proposal.

Experts have also criticised the UK government for its handling of the food and drinks industry, which is currently only required to sign up to voluntary codes on sugar levels.

Read: WHO warns sugar intake should be halved

Health experts warn sugar intake should be halved

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that people should cut their sugar intake in half.

The WHO has warned that sugar consumption levels should be halved
The WHO has warned that sugar consumption levels should be halved Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The WHO currently recommends a daily intake of 50g for adults - equivalent to about six level teaspoons - but is drafting recommendations that this should be halved.

The proposals follow warnings from England's chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, that a "sugar tax" may be needed to reduce sugar levels in food and drink.

Read: Sugar tax may be necessary, warns medical chief

Labour: Imposing sugar tax 'is not fair'

Shadow public health minister Luciana Berger wrote on Twitter:

0f0067e55a54d9733ee7a35e0b4e79e8_normal

Sugar tax is not fair.Most senior health officials clearly in despair at collapsing Responsibility Deal & Ministers caving into big business

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Chief Medical Officer's sugar tax call is a clear sign the Govt's flagship public health policy is failing people across the country

Read: Medical chief says may need sugar tax to tackle obesity

Medical chief: 'We have normalised being overweight'

Britain has "normalised being overweight" and needs to get a tough grip on the UK's sugar addiction, the chief medical officer has told MPs.

Speaking at the health select committee, Professor Dame Sally Davies warned promoting physical education would not be enough to solve the obesity crisis.

I worry that we have re-sized a women's dress size so that a size 14 now was a size 12 when I was student. We have normalised being overweight.

We have to find a new way - not of ostracising people who are obese and making them feel bad about themselves - but somehow of helping them to understand this is pathological and will cause them harm.

We have a generation of children who because they are overweight and lack activity may not live as long as my generation; they will be the first generation who will live less.

– Professor Dame Sally Davies

Read: Readers unimpressed by 'sugar tax' idea

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Readers unimpressed by 'sugar tax' idea

ITV News readers have spoken overwhelmingly against the suggestion of a 'sugar tax', made by England's chief medical officer in response to the country's obesity crisis.

At the time of writing, not a single response on Twitter or the ITV News Facebook page has supported the idea floated by Dame Sally Davies.

Aren't the public ever going to be allowed to be responsible for their own health? I am getting so fed up with being told what I can and can't eat.

– Steffie Hilgers

The government should focus on making healthy food cheap and stop food prices rocketing.

– Lucy Taylor

I actually think medical "experts" are a bigger threat to personal freedoms than the police, secret services, GCHQ, etc.

– Iain Gold

Sugar tax may be necessary, warns medical chief

A spoonful of sugar
The government may be forced into imposing a 'sugar tax', England's chief medical officer has warned. Credit: Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

A "sugar tax" may be inevitable if the government cannot take strong action to reduce levels in food and drink, England's chief medical officer has warned.

Speaking to MPs this afternoon, Dame Sally Davies said that she expected research to show that "sugar is addictive".

Dame Sally told the House of Commons health committee that the government must be "strong" with food and drink manufacturers, as they wouldn't cut sugar levels themselves.

Until then, she warned: "We may need to move toward some kind of sugar tax, but I hope we don't have to."

In October, experts from Oxford and Reading universities argued a 20% tax on sugary drinks would cut the number of overweight people in the UK by 285,000.

Read: New York mayor tries to limit sales of fizzy drinks

Government's obesity adviser calls for 'tax on juice'

Fruit juice contains so much sugar it should be taxed, the government's leading adviser on obesity has warned.

According to the Sunday Times (£), Susan Jebb said she had stopped drinking orange juice and warned others to dilute it or “wean” themselves off it.

A glass of orange juice. Credit: PA

“I would support taking it out of the five-a-day guidance,” she said. “Fruit juice isn’t the same as intact fruit and it has got as much sugar as many classical sugar drinks.

"It is also absorbed very fast so by the time it gets to your stomach your body doesn’t know whether it’s Coca-Cola or orange juice, frankly".

Read: Health experts call for clamp down on 'hidden sugars' in food

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