Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have announced steps to reduce 20% of calories in popular foods by 2024, in a bid to tackle childhood obesity.

Pizzas, ready meals, ready-made sandwiches, meat products and savoury snacks are all covered by the programme, as the Government is challenging the food industry to reduce calories in products. A full list of products can be found here.

The agency is giving industry three ways in which to achieve this, by either changing the recipe of products, reducing portion size or encouraging consumers to purchase lower calorie products.

According to evidence cited by PHE, overweight or obese boys and girls consume up to 500 and 290 calories too many each day respectively; adults consume on average 200 to 300 calories too many each day.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, commented: “The simple truth is, on average we need to eat less. Children and adults routinely eat too many calories and it’s why so many are overweight or obese.

“Industry can help families by finding innovative ways to lower the calories in the food we all enjoy and promoting UK business leadership on the world stage in tackling obesity.”

PHE added that the 20% reduction target is the result of analysis of the new calorie consumption data, experience of sugar and salt reduction programmes, and more than 20 meetings with the food industry and stakeholders.

It also stated that the next step in the programme involves engagement with the whole food industry such as retailers, manufacturers, major restaurant, café, takeaway and delivery companies, as well as health and charity sectors, to develop category guidelines.

These will be published in mid-2019.