Make 'simple food swaps' for good health, families told

Image caption Foods that are low in fat, salt and sugar are healthier choices

A new public health campaign in England is urging families to make simple foods swaps such as switching to diet drinks.

People who sign up to the Smart Swaps campaign will receive money-off vouchers towards their groceries.

Critics say this latest in a long line of government health drives puts the onus on consumers and not food manufacturers who should cut salt and sugar levels in their products.

A two-litre bottle of pop can contain the equivalent of 52 lumps of sugar.

Swapping sugary drinks to diet, sugar free options or milk could save a family up to three quarters of a 1kg bag of sugar over four weeks, according to the Change4Life Smart Swaps campaign.

Other swaps include:

  • Switching from full fat cheese to reduced fat cheese
  • Swapping butter for lower fat spreads
  • Picking low sugar cereals, such as plain porridge or whole wheat/grain products, over sugary ones
  • Drinking 1% fat or skimmed milk rather than whole or semi-skimmed

Prof Kevin Fenton of Public Health England said: "Swapping like-for-like food in your diet could help you cut out surprising levels of saturated fat, sugar and ultimately calories."

Public Health England has set aside £840,000 worth of vouchers, provided by commercial food stores, for those who sign up to the campaign.

Malcolm Clark of the Children's Food Campaign says the government should be putting more pressure on food manufacturers.

"These good messages risk being undermined unless there is real change in what is sold and promoted to us in store. The supermarkets should be the ones doing the swapping: permanently replacing promotions on unhealthy products with those for healthier items.

"There is nothing smart about Public Health England partnering with the food industry without expecting more in return."

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