Saira Khan – Food bosses should cap calories to save us from ourselves

For weeks I have used Christmas as an excuse to stuff my face and drink copious amounts of Prosecco.

The only exercise I have managed to do is hoist my legs off the floor and on to the sofa.

The only weights I have managed to lift is that of the remote control. And the crisp bowl.

My Dancing on Ice training took an especially big hit on Christmas Day – I am definitely one of those people who consumed a staggering average of 7,000 calories on the 25th, according to research.

And I don’t get where that figure comes from – how can some turkey, a bit of booze and a few chocolates and Christmas pud add up to that?

And that’s the problem, isn’t it? Obesity – and the strain our unhealthy lifestyles put on the NHS – is on the rise.

But while most of us know the difference between healthy and junk food, when it comes to knowing the calories in food, we are literally stuffed.

And it’s the hidden calories manufacturers sneak in that bug me the most.

I consider myself a smart and informed person who is totally aware and fully responsible for the choices I make in my life.

I understand that, in order for me to lose weight, I have to consume fewer calories than I burn, no matter what diet I’m on.

And I get that the daily requirements for a healthy woman is to consume 2,000 calories per day.

But I am not a nutritionist, I am a busy working mum – and quite frankly I just don’t have the time or the inclination to work out how many calories are in the food I eat.

And even if I think I’m making a healthy choice, that’s not always necessarily true… and here come the hidden calories, sneaking their way on to my hips.

Losing weight is not just about personal discipline, it is also about those in the food industry – ­supermarkets, pubs, restaurants and even schools – informing the public in a very simple, clear manner exactly how many calories are in their products.

So I welcome Public Health England’s recommendation that there should be a calorie cap on ready meals, supermarket sandwiches and restaurant items.

Chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone said: “These are early days in the calorie-reduction programme, but the food industry has a responsibility to act.”

What this means is they will have to revamp recipes and rethink meal offerings.

The recommendations include a cap of 544cals on ready meals, 951 on restaurant mains and 1,040 on pizzas.

It’s about time too. These big manufacturers have to take responsibility. They have a moral obligation to stop adding unnecessary calories in the form of sugar and fat.

Why do you need to add sugar to a slice of chicken?

Stealthy ways to make our food more palatable has led to sugar addiction, which causes obesity.

I’m not buying excuses from manufacturers that these caps are “unrealistic” – that screams they can’t be bothered and don’t want to spend money.

In this fight against obesity, everyone has to do their bit – self-discipline can only go so far.

Manufacturers have to start putting morals before profits and appreciate they they play an integral part in the nation’s health.

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