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British government plans to fight obesity by capping the calories allowed in a pizza, other foods

The British government plans to limit the number of calories allowed in a standard pizza and other meals sold in restaurants and grocery stores. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The British government plans to shrink the public's waistlines by forcing restaurants and grocery stores to limit the number of calories in a pizza and in other foods, the Independent reported.

What's the story?

Public Health England has called for "drastic" measures to tackle the obesity crisis that has risen among children by more than a third in the last decade, according to the latest government statistics released Thursday.

A standard pizza for one would be capped at 928 calories under the PHE's draft proposals, which would be significantly fewer calories than the average pizza contains. Other foods would also have calorie caps.

“It could mean less meat on a pizza, it could mean less cheese, it could mean a smaller size. Consumers are saying they want smaller portions and healthier options," Dr. Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE,  told the Telegraph.

“We know that just having healthy options on the menu won’t change the nation’s habits — we need the default option to have fewer calories. The default options for pizzas are margherita and pepperoni pizzas, so we need them to get healthier," she added.

Earlier this week, PHE officials met with food industry leaders to discuss proposed calorie limits and its attempt to tackle the obesity epidemic in the United Kingdom, according to reports.

"These are early days in the calorie reduction programme, but the food industry have a responsibility to act," Tedstone told the Independent. "The simple truth is on average we need to eat less."

Statistics showed that more than 1 in 5 students is considered obese by the time they leave elementary school.

"Children and adults routinely eat too many calories, and it's why we've seen severe obesity in 10 to 11-year-olds at an all-time high," Tedstone said.

When will the plan be finalized?

The final measures are expected to be announced in the spring, but PHE hopes to reduce calorie counts by 20 percent in a number of foods by 2024, according to the Daily Mail.

"This is the promising start we need to succeed in reducing calories in the foods included in the programme by 20 percent," said Duncan Selbie, PHE's chief executive.

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