In Brief

Restaurants told to make puddings healthier or be shamed

Health Secretary urges restaurants to cut portion sizes and sugar content as part of obesity action plan

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has told restaurants and cafes to reduce the size and sugar content of their puddings or face public scrutiny.

The government is already urging supermarkets to reduce sugar content in their products by 20 per cent, but the latest initiative acknowledges that eating out has become more common and subsequently more damaging to the nation's waistline.

Going out to eat is "no longer a treat", said Hunt, citing research that suggests a quarter of families with children eat fast food every week as he addressed representatives of 100 food companies, including McDonald's, Starbucks and Pizza Express.

"This means we expect the whole of the out-of-home sector… to step up and deliver on sugar reduction," he added

Duncan Selbie, the chief executive of Public Health England, which has long warned of a growing obesity crisis in the UK, told the meeting that he wants to see "uniform and comprehensive reduction and reformulation" of food and drink.

Companies will be asked to either cut the amount of sugar in their products, reduce their serving sizes or replace them with healthier alternatives.

 Although there is no legal path to compel the food industry to comply, chains that continue to serve up gut-busting desserts now risk being named and shamed.

The Health Secretary vowed that the government would "shine a light" on companies that fail to make the necessary changes, which will apply to restaurants, takeaways, cafes and food manufacturers.

Next year, savoury foods will also be the target of an attempt to reduce calories, salt and fat.

Hunt's warning marks a "toughening of approach", says The Times, despite the government's childhood obesity blueprint being "castrated" by Theresa May.

The Prime Minister has been accused of being soft on tackling obesity after she jettisoned a plan to curb junk food advertising.

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