Supplementary memorandum submitted by
the Infant & Dietetic Foods Association (PAC 00-01/136)
NAO REPORT ON TACKLING OBESITY IN ENGLAND
The Infant and Dietetic Foods Association (IDFA)
is the trade association representing UK manufacturers of infant
and dietetic foods including formula slimming diets. Through its
Slimming Foods Working Group, IDFA aims to promote high standards
of safety and probity in the manufacture and marketing of slimming
In February 2001, The National Audit Office
(NAO) published a Report on Tackling Obesity in England which
obesity in men and women has tripled
1 in 5 adults is now obese, potentially
rising to 1 in 4 adults by 2010;
two thirds of men and over half of
women are overweight or obese; and
obesity in England is growing faster
than in other European countries.
For the individual, obesity has severe health
implications and is associated with a wide range of diseases including:
coronary heart disease, including
anxiety and depression.
For society there are also cost implications.
The NAO estimated that:
obesity costs the National Health
Service up to £0.5 billion per year;
total costs to the wider economy
are over £2 billion per year;
18 million working days are lost
due to weight related illness; and
obesity caused 30,000 premature deaths
in 1998 alone.
Obesity occurs when an individual gains enough
weight such that it seriously endangers health. Some people are
more susceptible to weight gain for genetic reasons, but the main
cause of obesity is consuming more calories than we need in our
There are many reasons why this might happen
including eating too much, increased sedentary lifestyle, age,
gender, genetic and environmental factors. However, changes in
dietary habits in recent years have contributed to a situation
where we take in more energy than we need.
There are many effective ways to lose weight
including increased physical exercise, drug therapy, surgery,
dietary advice, and formula slimming diets. It is important to
match individuals to specific treatments. Some of these methods
are best suited to particular degrees of overweight and often
more than one option achieves the best results.
Prevention is also important particularly as
being overweight can lead to obesity. Overweight is also easier
to treat than obesity, so methods of weight loss that really work
are necessary even for the pre-obese.
IDFA RESPONSE TO
THE NAO REPORT
The NAO report identified that only 13 per cent
of Health Authorities have a plan in place specifically to prevent
or treat obesity and that management of overweight and obese patients
within the NHS is patchy. It also acknowledges that support and
counselling are important elements in successful intervention.
The NHS could not cope with an increasing overweight and obese
population. Private sector options are, therefore, essential.
The NAO makes recommendations about the co-ordination
of government policy on the management of obesity. IDFA supports
initiatives on healthy eating and increased physical exercise,
but these initiatives alone will not be enough. Overweight and
obesity arise for a variety of reasons and require a variety of
solutions. Clinically proven formula diets are one such solution.
As proven safe and effective weight loss methods they should not
be overlooked as one tool in the fight against overweight and
obesity. IDFA seeks a national weight management policy that encompasses
all successful options for losing weightincluding formula
Formula slimming diets are nutritionally fortified
and balanced, calorie restricted products which help individuals
achieve an energy restricted diet without sacrificing nutritional
provide guaranteed nutrition delivering
exact energy and nutrient intakes without calorie counting or
are clinically tested for safety
and efficacy, are backed by 20 years of scientific research, and
have been used successfully and safely by millions of people world-wide.
Studies show that they can also be used successfully in maintaining
comply with European legislation
and UK standards. European regulations specify the composition
of specific categories of slimming products, labelling and advertising.
Very low Calorie Diets, soon to be regulated under EU law, currently
comply with Department of Health recommendations. Advertising
is also subject to The Advertising Standards Association, British
Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion;
are convenient and easy to use providing
a temporary break from food preparation allowing time to re-evaluate
lifestyle and re-educate eating habits. Many dieters find that
the use of such products keeps them motivated to stay on their
are palatable and enjoyable enough
to be used for long periodsessential since it can take
several months to achieve a target weight.
18 April 2001