Public Health England (PHE) has called on the hospitality industry to step up efforts to reduce the sugar and calories in dishes or face further government action.
PHE chief executive Duncan Selbie will tell attendees at Food Matters Live today (Tuesday) that the organisation is planning to highlight where the food industry has made little progress and call on the hospitality industry to raise its game.
He will reference a survey commissioned by PHE that found that nine in 10 people supported the government working with the food industry to make food healthier. The survey found that only cancer (47%) and mental health (43%) were seen as more pressing health concerns for the UK population than obesity (39%).
Selbie warned that operators could not hide behind considering their offer a treat.
He said: "Obesity is the pandemic of modern times. Customers are saying they want faster progress from the food industry and, in particular, those businesses that have taken little or no action. We will be publicly reporting on these during 2019."
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, added: "Severe obesity in 10- and 11-year-olds is at an all-time high. Plans to improve the nation's diet are often described as ‘nanny state' interference, but it's clear people want healthier food and they expect the industry to play their full part in this."
Next year, PHE will publish its progress towards hitting a 20% sugar reduction by 2020, and more guidelines for the industry to achieve the 20% reduction in calories by 2024.