Press releases

Working together to tackle obesity

The publication of the Department of Health's 'Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives' strategy clearly demonstrates that Trading Standards services around the country have a key part to play in the bid to beat obesity.

Trading Standards Institute chief executive Ron Gainsford said: 'Trading Standards Professionals have been major contributors to improving the health of consumers for a long time. Our food work has proved invaluable to both the health agenda and partners who are working to deliver health outcomes and the obesity strategy will form a platform for everyone to work together to achieve better health for all.'

For several years, Trading Standards services have been actively helping consumers make informed choices and working with businesses to reduce fat, salt and sugar levels in their products.

They are uniquely placed to deliver national policy locally. A review of some of the Trading Standards campaigns around the country demonstrates this.

Buckinghamshire Trading Standards has championed healthier school lunchboxes, carrying out tests on crisps and other foods marketed for children's packed meals and promoting the results through local family events. And in Northamptonshire, the TS team was involved in a survey of fruit juice drinks, highlighting their high levels of sugar - with one 500ml bottle containing the entire recommended daily sugar intake for a child, the equivalent of more than two rolls of wine gums.

Currently, Trading Standards East Midlands region are promoting Check The Labels campaign, whereby leaflets teaching people how to read packaging details are distributed through schools, doctors' and dentists' surgeries and obesity clinics.

Derbyshire Trading Standards have looked recently at the levels of sugar in alcopops, of which two had sugar contents per bottle in excess of 10% per 100ml, which is equivalent to approximately 8 teaspoons of sugar. And in a food survey found an average pizza from an independent takeaway to contain 148 % of the daily recommended saturated fat intake and 160 % of the daily recommended salt intake.

Liverpool and Buckinghamshire are among the areas that have targeted late night food outlets in their salt awareness campaigns. And further south, Devon Trading Standards is preparing to launch Recipe for Change, which will lobby local food manufacturers to review salt, fat and sugar levels in their products. One of the county's ice cream manufacturers has removed all hydrogenated fats from its recipes as a result of Trading Standards consultation. It is hoping to adapt the Recipe for Change toolkit for catering outlets.

Devon has also been involved in a trial for a national survey, looking at nutritional values of children's food at tourist attractions, including seaside resorts.

Cllr Geoffrey Theobald OBE, chairman of Local Authorities Coordinators Of Regulatory Services (LACORS), said:

'Councils across the country are playing a leading role in improving the health and wellbeing of local people. This is such an important issue that councils must look across all services to find the best way of educating people about the benefits of healthy living and a balanced diet.

'Trading standards services in particular are involved in a wide range of innovative and exciting initiatives to help people make informed choices about the food they eat.

'It's clear that trading standards services have the skills, knowledge and willingness to play a leading role in local food projects which will help address health inequalities and bring communities closer together.'

Notes to Editors

Trading Standards Institute

The Trading Standards Institute has represented the interests of Trading Standards professionals for 120 years. We have a long and proud history of ensuring that the views of our members are well represented at the highest level of government, both nationally and internationally.

Our aim is to promote excellence and enhance the professionalism of our members in support of empowering and informing consumers, encouraging and working with honest businesses, targeting rogue traders and rogue trading practices and contributing to the health, welfare and wellbeing of citizens and communities.

TSI members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities in response to 2 million consumer and business complaints and enquiries each year. They also support the delivery of new initiatives such as Consumer Direct, providing first point of contact practical consumer advice.

They also work in the business, consumer and central government sectors in promoting and influencing the safety, prosperity and enhancement of individuals and markets with a dependency on effective and professional trading standards contributions and interventions.