Portsmouth councillor slams ‘nanny state’ plan to make fast food healthier: ‘I am overweight and that's my fault, not the government’s’

Cllr Luke Stubbs says that the government has no right to tell takeaways to sell healthier meals
Cllr Luke Stubbs says that the government has no right to tell takeaways to sell healthier meals

A PORTSMOUTH councillor has slammed government plans to limit calories in meals - saying it is an individual's choice to be overweight.

Deputy leader of the city's Tories, Cllr Luke Stubbs, claimed proposals to tackle obesity by cutting calories and portion sizes across the country would not work.

Earlier this year Public Health England (PHE) revealed its strategy to reduce calories by asking food sellers and manufacturers to cut calories in their products by 20 per cent. This would mean either making the dish healthier or reducing its size.

It is hoped the scheme, that would see pies limited to 695 calories and pizzas to 928 calories, will be put in place by next spring.

But Cllr Luke Stubbs says the plans are not acceptable. He said: 'My view is that all these attempts to micro-manage people's lives are going too far.

'I freely admit that I am overweight myself and that's my fault, I'm not going to blame the government for that. And I don't want the government telling me what I can and can't eat. We should be allowed to have personal responsibility in this country.

'If people wish to eat unhealthily then that is up to them. They know the problems involved.

'Cutting down calories and portion sizes is just going to encourage people to have more portions, making the problem worse.

'It is clear that shops have already started to shrink portion sizes, for example the McDonald's McFlurry is now smaller.'

The PHE report acknowledged that the plans would place emphasis on tackling childhood obesity.

Cllr Stubbs added: 'How many children actually buy things like pies and curries from takeaways?

'It's misleading. We always hear that things are for the children but most of what we are talking about here is not sold to kids.'

Chief executive of PHS, Duncan Selbie, explained the need for change. 'The simple truth is on average we need to eat less,' he said.

'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.'

Figures from NHS Digital showed that in Portsmouth the number of children in their first year of school seen as obese went up from 8.9 per cent between 2015 and 2016, to 10.7 per cent from 2016 to 2017.

Similarly, the number of children in their final year of primary school considered obese increased from 20.4 per cent to 21.6 per cent.

Nationally one in five children in Year 6 and one in 10 children in Reception were classified as obese.