Top firms sign up to new calorie count drive

Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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Major firms including Coca-Cola, Subway and Tesco have pledged to cut calories from foods to help tackle obesity.

Seventeen companies, including supermarkets, food manufacturers and food outlets, have signed a new calorie reduction pledge under the government’s new responsibility deal.

Under the pledge, Asda will develop a new reduced-calorie brand that will contain at least 30 per cent fewer calories than its Chosen By You brand.

While Coca-Cola will reduce the calories in some of its soft drinks by at least 30 per cent by 2014 and Mars will cap the number of calories in its chocolate to 250 per portion by the end of 2013.

Meanwhile, Morrisons has pledged to launch a range of more than 300 healthier products.

Subway now offers five out of its nine low-fat subs, each with fewer than 370 calories, as part of its £3 lunch offer.

And Tesco is also on track to remove 1.8 billion calories from its soft drinks.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley says: ‘We all have a role to play – from individuals to public, private and non-governmental organisations – if we are going to cut five billion calories from our national diet.

‘It is an ambitious challenge but the responsibility deal has made a great start.’

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, says the news is welcome – but must be the beginning of more action.

‘Over 20 per cent of manufacturers and marketers haven’t stepped up to sign the pledge and the majority of the ones that have are still only “promising” any kind of action.

‘All need to make a commitment like Coca-Cola to reformulate by a specific amount within the tightest timeframe.’