It has been a year since the publication of the Foresight report on obesity in the UK, a government-backed study that painted a bleak picture of the possible future health of the country – and called for a multi-stakeholder approach to tackle the problem.
To mark the anniversary, UK industry body The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and Foresight held an event last night (10 November) in London to debate the role of convenience foods in the fight against obesity.
The question: “Convenience foods: help or hindrance in tackling obesity?” generated a fierce debate. Here are a selection of the key quotes from the event.
“Obesity is to public health what climate change is to everything.” – Professor Tim Lang, City University
“On reformulation, health and wellness and workplace well-being, we can argue with some justification that the UK is leading the world in these areas.” – Melanie Leech, director general, FDF
“We are quite unique [in the UK]. There are only a few governments that have a comprehensive obesity strategy.” – Professor Sandy Thomas, Foresight
“If you talk about systems mapping, people lose the will to live. Tell people about calories.” – Martin Glenn, chief executive, Birds Eye Iglo
“We are seeing a change of consciousness from the industry but it has not yet delivered. The investment will take a long time.” – Prof. Lang
“Some convenience foods need to be consumed less often; some need to go.” – Prof. Lang
“Meat is probably the single item that needs to go full stop because of its high environmental burden as categorised by the Stern report.” – Prof. Lang
“I am absolutely convinced consumers are being mis-sold the message that convenience foods across the board is a pseudonym for junk food.” – Dr Susan Jebb, Medical Research Council, Human Nutrition Research
“Convenience and processing are used as pejorative terms.” – Glenn
“We are still locked into convenience foods as a culture.” – Prof. Lang
“The public will vote for solutions that will go with the grain of how they live their lives.” – Glenn
“I’ve been in the firing line of this debate for years and it’s not a particularly rational debate because it really deals with belief systems.” – Glenn
“It is very British – we never want to miss an opportunity to insert class judgements into lifestyle discussions.” – Glenn
“Healthy convenience food needs to be more than just about bagged lettuce and smoothies.” – Dr Jebb
“I’m not pessimistic about it but it will not be a quick fix.” – Nigel Hawkes, ex-The Times