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TMCNet:  Health blitz urges public to junk the fat and fizz: Healthier options in diet mean 'easy calorie cut' Drinks body resists Public Health England drive

[January 01, 2014]

Health blitz urges public to junk the fat and fizz: Healthier options in diet mean 'easy calorie cut' Drinks body resists Public Health England drive

(Guardian (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Families are being urged to ditch sugary drinks and cut down on saturated fat in the latest advertising blitz by England's public health watchdog.

Public Health England said a family of four could reduce their sugar intake by three-quarters of a 1kg bag of sugar in just one month by swapping fizzy drinks for healthier alternatives.

Changing whole milk for semi-skimmed milk could mean the average family cutting down their fat intake by a third of a pint over four weeks.

The advertising campaign, Smart Swaps, is seeking to capitalise on the millions of Britons who begin the new year with health-conscious resolutions.

"Swapping like-for-like food in our diet could help cut out surprising levels of saturated fat, sugar and ultimately calories without having to give up the kinds of food we like," said Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England.

He added: "We all eat too much saturated fat and sugar. Together this increases our risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers." Families will be offered vouchers to encourage them to avoid sugary cereals and swap butter and certain cheeses for reduced-fat alternatives.

However, the move brought a backlash from the soft drinks industry. The British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) claimed its products were being shown in a misleading and "deliberately negative" way.

Gavin Partington, director general of the BSDA, said: "It is frustrating for an industry which has been working with the Department of Health to promote healthier behaviours, reformulate products so they are lower in calories, make available smaller pack sizes and focus more of its marketing investment on low- and no-calorie options." He took issue with the depiction in the adverts of a two-litre bottle of pop, claimed to contain the equivalent of 52 sugar cubes. "That bottle is not intended to be consumed by an individual, certainly not by one child. Such an extreme depiction . . . undermines the key message of the campaign, namely that it's very easy to make a smart swap to a no-calorie, diet soft drink." The Children's Food Campaign welcomed the initiative but said it would be undermined unless supermarkets made healthier foods more affordable.

Captions: Smart Swaps says replacing fizzy drinks with heathier ones would cut families' sugar intake by 75% of a 1kg sugar bag in a month Photograph: Change4Life/PA (c) 2014 Guardian Newspapers Limited.

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