Members of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) signed the calorie limit pledge in response to Public Health England's 'Sugar Reduction: Responding to a Challenge' paper, which said diets high in sugar contributed to excess calorie intake, leading to weight gain and obesity.
The commitment from FDF members followed an earlier pledge from Mars.
Following Mars’ pledge
In 2012, Mars announced a 250 calorie cap on chocolate sold globally by the end of 2013. Mondelēz International was a signatory to the 2012 calorie reduction pledge within the Public Health Responsibility Deal, but only now has committed to a 250 calorie cap and only in the UK.
We asked Mondelēz why it didn’t join Mars in 2012.
“We were already working on reducing a number of bars such as Wispa and Double Decker to reach the 250 kcal target. This is not something that has happened overnight,” said Mondelēz International UK spokesperson Tony Bilsborough.
“As a proud signatory to the UK Responsibility Deal on Public Health, Mondelez International knows that it has a part to play in helping people lead healthier lives. “
Cadbury to axe Bar and Half range
Nestlé UK & Ireland plans to have no single serve confectionery products over 250 calories by the end of 2014. Currently 89% of its confectionery products are less than 250 calories.
He confirmed that the company would axe its Cadbury Dairy Milk Bar and a Half range in the UK by the end of 2015 because all product exceeded the 250 limit.
“Whilst this might be disappointing news for our Bar and a Half fans, we believe that by focusing on portion size, we can help consumers manage their calorie intake,” he said.
The UK’s Daily Mail suggested that consumers may just upgrade to family-sized bars
“That is a matter for each consumer because we make bars in a variety of sizes. However, this commitment is for single serve bars aimed at a specific market,” said Bilsborough.
FDF members will complete the 250 calorie cap by spring 2016.
Calories and sugar content in popular UK brands
‘No shenanigans’ warns Action on Sugar
Katharine Jenner, campaign director for health grouo Action on Sugar told this site: “We welcome any attempts by the confectionery sector to reduce calories in their products, however 250 calories is still a lot of calories if they are ‘empty’ – by comparison, two whole cans of cola contains 278 calories.
“We hope many manufacturers will see fit to go further than this, and that there will be no shenanigans such as calling a current ‘king-size’ products ‘2 portions’, or irresponsibly promoting them on ‘buy one get one free’.”
What about sugar limits?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently conducted a public consultation on sugar and said there would be additional benefits for obesity and dental health if sugar accounted for only 5% of calories in a person’s diet. However, it stopped short of changing its recommended 10% level.
The WHO’s latest 5% advice equates to around 25 g of sugar a day for an average sized adult. This means the limits are neared or surpassed for many popular single-serve chocolate bars.
Mondelēz International’s single-serve Cadbury Dairy Milk bar in the UK contains 25.5 g of sugar; a Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar in the US contains 24 g of sugars, while a UK Mars bar has 30.4 g.