After last week’s revelation that the U.K. was Europe’s most overweight nation, and its millennial generation was on track to outweigh the baby boomers, Public Health England—the country’s health agency—has come up with a plan. The BBC and The Telegraph announce this week that Public Heath England has released the 400-600-600 plan, which would limit daily caloric intake to 1600 calories a day.
The Telegraph reports that under the new “One You” campaign, “Britons are being encouraged to stick to 400 calories at breakfast, and 600 calories for both lunch and dinner. Critics branded the daily allowance too low for growing children and close to war rations, but public health experts warned that obesity had now become ‘the norm’ and said most people were eating hundreds of extra calories each day.”
Public Health England is a fairly young (since 2013) executive agency of the Department Of Health And Social Care in the U.K. While obviously these guidelines would be difficult, if not impossible to enforce, it does point to a sweeping attempt to put an entire country on a diet, similar to the USDA food pyramid guidelines, which have also changed over time.
To aid this effort, PHE is also urging “the food industry to start using healthier ingredients and encourage the public to opt for lower calorie foods,” according to the BBC, as part of a drive to cut allover calorie consumption by 20 percent by 2024. The country launched a sugar reduction program last year.
Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum, however, pointed out the unfortunate parallels between these calorie levels and the dietary restrictions put on the country during WWII: “This is only a smidgen above the near-starvation diet that the occupying Germans allowed Parisians to live off in the Second World War. Try selling that to the British in 2018.”
Still, the PHE seems very determined, according to the BBC: “If action is not taken, PHE said, it would be prepared to ask the government to legislate. It would be strictly monitoring progress by looking at which products people were buying and would be prepared to ‘name and shame’ individual companies not pulling their weight.” So to speak.