By Daniel Hunter

The country’s biggest supermarkets, food manufacturers, caterers and food outlets are joining forces to help cut five billion calories from the nation’s daily diet, the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced.

Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, Coca-Cola Great Britain, Kerry Foods, Kraft, Mars, Nestle, PepsiCo, Premier Foods, Unilever, Beefeater (Whitbread), Subway and contract caterer Compass have all joined the fight against obesity and are leading the way in signing up to the Responsibility Deal’s calorie reduction pledge.

England has one of the highest rates of obesity in Europe and some of the highest rates in the developed world. Over 60 per cent of adults and a third of 10 and 11 year olds are overweight or obese. Consuming too many calories is at the heart of the problem.

Making commitments today to cut and cap calories are some of the world’s biggest food and drink manufacturers and best known brands. More than three-quarters of the retail market has signed up. In addition, among the first signatories are some of the top caterers providing meals in thousands of out of home settings, including Subway’s 1,423 stores - ranked number two by total meals sold. The impact of these commitments will help millions of people eat and drink fewer calories.

The following examples highlight some of the initiatives being taken, which include companies actively promoting and incentivising customers to choose lower calorie options. For many these examples are just one part of a wider calorie reduction strategy.

The commitments include:

- Asda will develop a new reduced calorie brand across a wide range of products that will contain at least 30 per cent fewer calories than their core Chosen by you brand;

- Coca-Cola Great Britain will reduce the calories in some of its soft drinks brands by at least 30 per cent by 2014;

- Mars will cap the calories of their chocolate items to 250 calories per portion by the end of 2013;

- Morrisons will launch a range of healthier products developed by their chefs and nutritionists. More than 300 lines will be introduced, including low calorie and high fibre offerings. Key to this range will be an easy to read and understand labelling system;

- Premier Foods, manufacturers of brands including Ambrosia, Batchelors, Hovis, Loyd Grossman, Mr.Kipling, and Sharwood’s, will reduce calories in one third of their sales by the end of 2014 and at least 30 per cent of new products will be lower calorie choices;

- The Subway brand has committed to offer five out of their nine Low Fat Range Subs, each with fewer than 370 calories, as part of their £3 lunch offer; and

- Tesco is on track to remove 1.8 billion calories from its soft drinks, will expand its Eat, Live and Enjoy range of low-calorie meals and is making it easier for shoppers to spot low-calorie options through its "Green Ping" labels.

“Eating and drinking too many calories is at the heart of the nation’s obesity problem," Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley said.

“We all have a role to play — from individuals to public, private and non-governmental organisations — if we are going to cut five billion calories from our national diet. It is an ambitious challenge but the Responsibility Deal has made a great start.

“This pledge is just the start of what must be a bigger, broader commitment from the food industry. But it is a great step in the right direction and will help million of us eat and drink fewer calories.”

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