I recently discussed the government’s plans to trim down obesity. Many felt that we should take more responsibility for what we eat. So, is the government, industry or the hungry public ultimately responsible?
Our research has shown that most people know what they should be eating to be healthy. Give or take a few areas of confusion, the advice is quite simple: watch how much fat, sugar and salt you are eating and eat lots of fruit and vegetables.
With over a quarter of people now obese, it’s clear that a lot of people are struggling to get the balance right.
Food glorious food
In our previous discussion on the Responsibility Deal, Pam told us:
‘The problem does not lie in food labelling, but in greed and laziness.’
There’s a big element of personal choice – and life would be pretty miserable if you couldn’t enjoy food. But our research shows that people think that the way food is produced, sold and marketed can make it too easy to eat unhealthily.
At Which?, we have focused a lot on labelling because the nutritional content of processed foods we buy or foods we order when eating out isn’t always obvious. There can be high levels of salt in foods even if it’s not always obvious from the taste, and the foods with the highest calorie content can often be counter-intuitive.
And the price of food is receiving a lot of attention here on Which? Conversation (and not just pasty-gate!). Commenter Celcat told us that it’s cheaper to eat ‘unhealthily’ than it is healthy.
Will food taxes deter?
Commenter Kate said that, although people should be made more accountable for their health, an unhealthy tax might deter manufacturers:
‘Food manufacturers should also be made responsible for creating food that is full of chemicals, sugar and saturated fat – perhaps a tax on these things might make them think twice about loading it into the food that they are producing.’
There’s been some success among manufacturers reducing salt levels in foods and a start has been made on reducing saturated fat. But do you think the government’s new ‘calorie reduction pledge’, launched last weekend, will make a difference to our diets? And will you be sampling the delights on the new reduced calorie product ranges?
There’s still a lot more the government and industry can do to help make it less of a struggle to find healthy, tasty choices that are affordable. Individual choice can only take us so far – and failure to get to the root causes of obesity has far wider implications for our health service, economy and society as a whole.
Who is responsible for tackling obesity?
We, the people (49%, 187 Votes)
All of the above (44%, 167 Votes)
Food manufacturers/sellers (4%, 15 Votes)
The government (3%, 11 Votes)
Total Voters: 379