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Which? submission to the Health Committee's inquiry into the impact of diet and physical activity on health

Around two thirds of the population are overweight or obese. While many people know what they should be eating to be healthy, they struggle to put this into practice. While initiatives such as improving the skills taught in schools and wider government social marketing campaigns have an importance place, the environment in which people make their food choices has to support healthier choices in order to see meaningful change.

Our research shows that this is still often not the case and that healthy eating messages are often undermined by issues such as availability, affordability and marketing practices.

Some progress has been made in important areas such as salt reduction and clearer nutrition labelling. But overall a more ambitious approach is needed to tackle the barriers that all too often mean it is easier to eat unhealthily than to be healthy.

Priorities should include setting targets for reducing sugar and saturated fat in key food categories, along with continuing work on salt reduction; tackling the many food promotions that undermine healthy eating messages, including price promotions and marketing aimed at children; and improving the information available to consumers at the point they choose what to eat – through full roll out of traffic light nutrition labelling and provision of energy labelling in chain restaurants.