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FOOD POLICY


Weighing up healthy eating policy


As the nation looks to tackle its growing obesity crisis, policymakers are ramping up the healthy eating agenda. Amy Snelling speaks to Julian Edwards FCSI about what it means for foodservice operators


F


rom mandatory calorie labeling on menus for large operators, to marketing restrictions on foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS), to a proposal for sugar and salt tax, public health policymakers and advisors are increasingly calling on the food industry to help tackle the growing obesity crisis. One of the heaviest nations in


Western Europe, the UK’s obesity levels have been creeping up over the past 30 years. Today two-thirds of adults in England are overweight or obese – as are a third of children by the time they reach primary school leaving age – linked to an increase in chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and, now,


more severe illness from Covid-19. “I hate using extreme references


like this, but we hear it all the time: statistically obesity is one of Britain’s biggest killers,” says independent catering consultant and chair of FCSI UK & Ireland Julian Edwards. Working towards creating a healthier nation since he founded his consultancy company GY5 25 years ago, Edwards says while the issue has been on the radar for many forward-thinking operators for years, he’s relieved to see the wave of interest pushing it up the national agenda. “It’s probably the fi rst time in decades all parts of the food chain have the healthy eating agenda and reduction in obesity as a broad approach.” Looking back to when he fi rst


started working with institutional caterers in spaces such as schools and staff restaurants he refl ects: “It was all Turkey Twizzlers and chips!” On the fl ipside, today he sees these operators taking the “moral stance” and making great strides in off ering healthy choices. “They tend to have a passionate and intimate relationship with the provenance of food, how it’s prepared, cooked and served and an interest in balancing good and bad nutrients.” Even in quick-service


restaurants where, he continues: “The emphasis is to attract people with foods that are


extremely tasty to engage footfall.” This often leads to menus laden with HFSS foods and he sees many


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EAME


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