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Big Macs, Domino’s pizzas and Greggs bakes could get smaller as part of crackdown on UK obesity crisis

Everything you need to know…

Alex Watson

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Sikander Iqbal/Wikimedia & Stock Catalog/Flickr

Public Health England has asked the food industry to ‘voluntarily’ cut calories on fast food items, which could mean the Big Mac will be 20% smaller. 

McDonald’s won’t be the only chain that could be affected by PHE’s new rules. Domino’s pizzas, a portion of fish and chips and even Greggs bakes could be affected in the shakeup.

Calories would be reduced by 20% in fast food and by 10% in children’s food bundles such as ready meals.

The 20% calorie reduction would see the Big Mac drop from 508 calories currently to 407. 

Andrew Herashchenko/Unsplash

Similarly, a pepperoni pizza from Domino’s would become 1,982 calories in the plans, reduced from the existing 2,478 – which is 478 calories over the entire recommended daily intake for women. 

Pizzas regularly contain more calories than the recommended daily intake and so were singled out in the scheme by PHE. 

Savoury snacks such as sandwiches and crisps would also see a calorie reduction of 5% under the new scheme. 

The government is also set to recommend a plan to help reduce people’s salt intake as many are having 8.5g a day, exceeding the 6g limit. 

Rosie Fraser/Unsplash

Public Health Minister Jo Churchill told The Sun: “We can all do our bit to stay healthy, to help protect us from coronavirus and take pressure off the NHS.

“The food industry can play their part, by making it as easy as possible for everyone to eat more healthily. These guidelines will help them take positive action.

Chief nutritionist for PHE, Dr Alison Tedstone added: “Eating food and drink that’s higher in calories than people realise is one of the reasons why many of us are either overweight or obese.

“This is about broadening choice for consumers, as well as making the healthier choice the easy choice. Progress to date on sugar and salt reduction has shown that this can happen without compromising on taste and quality.”

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Obesity costs the NHS £6.1 billion a year, with 28.7% of adults in England being classed as obese and 35.6% classed as overweight.

Dr Hilary Jones spoke about Britain’s health crisis on Good Morning Britain, warning that the issue needed support and motivation rather than humiliation. 

Hilary said: “People who are overweight or obese need GP support, but unless you address the issue in the first place and weigh them, you can’t give that support.

“The conversation has to take place, it has to be honest, it has to be frank and it has to be non-judgemental.

“Support services need to be there, but when £65million is being spent by social services in terms of bariatric equipment, such reinforced beds, heavy-duty wheelchairs, it’s something that needs to be solved because the NHS can’t afford it.”

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This follows recent headlines which saw a suggestion from the National Obesity Forum to weigh children in schools from September to ensure children are ‘losing lockdown weight’.

The National Child Measurement Programme weighs and measures children at school and passes the information onto the NHS to ‘plan and provide better health services for children’.

Parents will receive a letter from local authorities which will provide more information on whether your child will be weighed and measured. 

The information will compare children’s weight with their age, height and sex, using the controversial BMI measurement tool. 

The proposal was met with swift backlash. 

Many people explained that weighing children will do more harm than good and will damage the mental health of youngsters. 

Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorder Associated, explains that BMI and weight are not holistic measures of health.

While the Centres For Disease Control and Prevention neither recommends for or against the use of the Body Mass Index measurement programme it says that pupils should be in a ‘safe and supportive environment for students of all bodies sizes’.

Adding to this, the CDC explains that there is no conclusive evidence that such programmes are effective in improving health in children. 

Mysko explains that tests can lead to bullying, shame and even disordered eating. Adding that schools should prioritise what makes children feel happy and strong, not encouraging them to fixate on what they look like or numbers on a scale. 

A spokesperson for the government programme told Refinery29: “We are also well known for pointing out that zoos measure their animals annually to check their good health, but our children, the country’s future, are ignored!” 

Mysko responded to this saying comparing children to zoo animals was ‘unhelpful and bizarre’.

She added: “We know that weight and BMI are not accurate measures of health and while we do need screenings in schools for a variety of issues, including eating disorders, and we need to be mindful and vigilant about ensuring that we’re measuring the health of kids.

“Weight and BMI are not what we should be looking at.” She adds that the onus of health shouldn’t be placed on an individual, especially a child.

“This is a systemic problem, not an individual issue, many people in our community who have struggled with eating disorders or who are in higher weight bodies have been subjected to years or lifetimes of diets and harmful weight loss programs, all built on the assumption that an individual can control their weight or environment, which isn’t a helpful or accurate way of framing the discussion.” 

Mysko explains that while Covid-19 has ‘serious life-threatening complications’ we mustn’t forget ‘mental health’ of children. She added that we ‘need to look at the risks of shaming kids for their body size in an environment where there are already so many mental health risks’.

Explaining that children have little control over their environment, what they eat and their ability to exercise, Mysko adds: “We need to be supporting kids now more than ever.”

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B&M announces plans to open 45 new stores

Who else is excited for this?

Proper Manchester

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Hugh Venables / Geograph

We’ve got some good news for bargain hunters, as discount retailer B&M is set to open up to 45 new stores in the UK.

The company has announced that it plans to open more stores than expected this year, after its sales and profit jumped during the pandemic.

B&M kept most of its stores open during lockdown while some rivals shut their doors, with the demand for bargains rising as money became tight.

Albert Bridge / Geograph

As a result, it expects to open between 40 and 45 new stores before the end of the financial year – with most opening towards the end of this period – although details of where they’ll be located are unclear at the moment.

Simon Arora, the chief executive of the retailer, said: “Our business model is proving well-attuned to the evolving needs of customers, given our combination of everyday value across a broad range of product categories being sold at convenient out-of-town locations.

“Our people have risen to the many challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis, not least in serving our customers through a period of high demand, keeping our shelves filled, providing a clean and safe shopping environment, as well as sourcing higher volumes than we had planned.”

Jaggery / Geograph

B&M was given permission to keep its stores open while others were forced to shut during the summer lockdown as it also sells food and DIY products.

Amisha Chohan, an equity research analyst at Quilter Cheviot, added: “B&M announced another positive trading update this morning, proving it is firing on all cylinders in both the UK and France.

“The retailer is also winning market share and has attracted a new, middle class, customer base – who are beginning to shop with them regularly.

“We believe B&M will continue to outperform peers as consumers become much more money conscious.”

Are you excited for more B&Ms?

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Parrots removed from wildlife park after they taught each other to swear at customers

This is hilarious…

Alex Watson

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Lincolnshire Wildlife Park/Facebook

Five African grey parrots who were adopted by Lincolnshire Wildlife Park taught each other to swear in isolation. 

The group of parrots at the zoo have now had to be put back into isolation to stop them from swearing at customers.

Adopted together on August 15th, they shared a room at Lincolnshire Wildlife Park but it turns out they’ve been up to no good in lockdown.

Although staff at the park have found it hilarious and enjoyed watching the parrots, swift action has had to be taken when they started cursing at customers.

Lincolnshire Wildlife Park/Facebook

CEO of the park, Steve Nichols said the parrots have been put in a ‘time out’, although he did confirm this isn’t the first time they’ve had swearing parrots. 

He told LincolnshireLive: “Every now and then you’ll get one that swears and it’s always funny. We always find it very comical when they do swear at you.”

He added: “The more they swear the more you usually laugh which then triggers them to swear again.”

The room full of swearing birds, the chief said. was similar to ‘an old working men’s club scenario’.  

Lincolnshire Wildlife Park/Facebook

Within 20 minutes of being in front of customers, the birds were swearing at them.

Mr Nichols confirmed that it was actually just a funny situation, explaining: “We found it highly amusing and the customers were fine – they were no problem at all.

“But we worried because we had a weekend coming up and children coming.”

The plan for the birds now is to release them separately so they can’t ‘encourage’ each other. Everyone at the park who has been working hard throughout the pandemic has enjoyed the laughs from the mischievous parrots.

Lincolnshire Wildlife Park/Facebook

“It has been a real rough year, but we are the eternal optimists and we have no option. We have to keep moving forward,” said Mr Nichols.

The parrots have both been good for business.

Mr Nichols explained: “It is quite an unusual place where you are walking around and people are swearing at aviaries trying to get a parrot to swear back at them.”

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Government ‘preparing a total social lockdown plan’ for the North of England

Thoughts?

Alex Watson

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Louis Hansel/Unsplash

Pubs and restaurants could be forced to close for a fortnight as part of a ‘total social lockdown’ plan.

The emergency plan is currently being considered by the government following spikes in the number of cases across the North of England.

In Greater Manchester, each borough is currently at ‘Red Alert’ with the infection rate in Bolton one of the highest in the country (235.1 cases per 100,000 people). 

As things stand, in Greater Manchester people cannot visit friends and family in their homes or gardens and cannot socialise with people outside of their household or bubble in any public place.

These rules could now be rolled out across the North. 

The Times reports that a ‘social lockdown’ was presented as one of the options by the Covid-19 strategy committee, the week before new restrictions were imposed.

The emergency plans have been drawn up after local restrictions put in place in areas such as Greater Manchester failed to reverse the surge in infections.

Under these proposed plans, schools, shops, factories and offices where staff cannot work from home will remain open.

It would also see meeting other people socially in any indoor location banned, as well as pubs and restaurants being ordered to close for two weeks.

London may also face these same restrictions, if cases continue to rise in the capital.

From today, every person in England is required to self-isolate by law if they test positive for Covid-19 or are contacted by the NHS Track and Trace service. 

Those who fail to do so risk fines starting at £1,000 that can reach £10,000.

The number of people who have tested positive (infection rate) in Manchester now stands at 201 per 100,000. An additional 1,000 new confirmed cases were recorded over the week leading to September 24th. 

 

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