RCP Academic Vice President Professor John Wass welcomed today’s report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN).
By 2050 the majority of the population in Britain will be obese. It is clear that we are all consuming too much sugar in our diets. The RCP therefore welcomes the call for the public to decrease the amount of sugar consumed in their diet from 10% to 5%. However, this recommendation represents a huge challenge to the general public and those working in the health sector - as many young people and adults already exceed the previous 10% level.
The introduction of simple nutritional labelling on all high calorie food products, as well as restrictions on the advertising of high calorie food and drink to children would be a sound initial step. However, to tackle this problem in future there needs to be a strong regulatory framework and concerted action across government and industry to work on the prevention of health harms arising from obesity and poor diets.
The NHS too can lead by example – our recent RCP report Work and Wellbeing in the NHS said that only 28% of NHS trusts in England reported having a plan or policy to help reduce overweight and obesity among staff. Many NHS organisations offer poor access to affordable, healthy food – particularly for those working overnight – and on-site retail outlets selling cheap confectionery and junk food are common. The NHS could do more to provide healthy options for staff and visitors as part of a package of measures to improve health and wellbeing.
The RCP will continue to work collaboratively with a range of organisations to ensure that this issue remains high on the public health and government agenda - to ultimately reduce the harms from obesity in future.