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Demand that UK Dietary guidelines are no longer influenced by the food industry

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Join us in signing this petition – speak up and tell the UK government to start rethinking the way that national dietary guidelines are created and reviewed, and to review the current dietary guidelines with a new panel of professionals who have no food industry bias and conflicts of interest.


The dietary guidelines for the UK are produced by Public Health England and comprise the Eatwell Guide graphic and an accompanying 12-page document. Prior to the current Eatwell Guide we had the Eatwell Plate, which was introduced in 2007 and is very similar to the current guide.


Before the 2016 Eatwell Guide was published it was reviewed by Public Health England and an external reference group.


The eleven individuals who comprised this group were from nutritional bodies and food and drink corporations such as the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF). See notes below.


The members of seven of these nutritional bodies and food and drink corporations are companies which produce and/or sell ultra-processed food. Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Unilever, Mars, Nestle and more.


The Scientific Advisory Committee for Nutrition (SACN) produce reports on nutrition and health. One of these is the 2015 report entitled ‘Carbohydrates and Health’. The recommendations in this report were used as the basis for the updated advice published in the 2016 Eatwell Guide.


Out of the 12 scientists and researchers that worked on the ‘Carbohydrate and Health’ report, 7 of them (including the Chair, Ian Macdonald) had/have interests in the same companies who are associated with the Eatwell Guides external reference group. See notes below for the full list of individuals and their corresponding conflicts of interest.


According to a Government Briefing paper entitled ‘Obesity Statistics’ dated 2nd February 2016:



·      24% of adults are obese and a further 36% are overweight, making a total of 60% of English people in the overweight category (in Scotland this figure stands at 65%)

·      9% of children are obese by the age of 5 a further 13% are overweight

·      Between 10 and 11 years of age 19% are obese and an additional 14% are overweight, making a total of 33% of children age 10-11 being overweight

·      In England in 2014, pharmacies dispensed over 500,000 prescriptions for the drug Orlistat (costing £15.3 million), which aims to treat obesity by stopping the body from absorbing fat from food


Type II Diabetes

·      Since 1996 the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled, from 1.4million to almost 3.5million. 90% of these people have Type II Diabetes

·      Obesity is the most potent risk factor for Type II Diabetes, accounting for 85% of the risk

·      On average there are 135 diabetes-related amputations each week in England


It is becoming increasingly evident that the current dietary guidelines are not working. Statistics in both the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s (SACN) Carbohydrate and Health report and the National Diet and Nutrition Survey shows that people on the whole have been following the guidelines as set out in the Eatwell Guide. However obesity rates have not improved. The Eatwell Plate/Guide has not improved the problem of an overweight and obese public since it was introduced in 2007. 


Because of their ingredients ultra processed foods are nutritionally unbalanced. As a result of their formulation and presentation they tend to be consumed in excess, and displace natural and or minimally processed foods. Their means of production, distribution, marketing and consumption damage culture, social life and the environment. Companies that produce these should therefore have no influence over public health dietary guidelines as the foods promoted have no nutritional or health benefits that cannot be achieved by eating natural alternatives.


While there are links between processed food companies, PHE and the SACN then the health of the UK is at a continued risk as the message to avoid all ultra processed food, which contributes to obesity, is unlikely to ever reach the public.


Of course Universities and research institutes need money to fund their programs, the concern however comes when the food industry funds scientists who advise the government on how to look after our peoples health.


While views from those within the food industry are worth hearing, no public health advisory committee should have a majority from the food industry on it. The British Retail Consortium, who were represented in the Eatwell Guide external reference group are more likely to have a vested interest in the sale of goods rather than the overall health of the nation and therefore should not be on this committee.


If we continue to allow dietary guidelines to be influenced in this way, then we are fundamentally allowing companies like Coca-Cola and Nestle to dictate our future diet choices, our health and our children’s health.


It’s time for all UK citizens to begin asking themselves how they feel about the food industry having huge influence over what they are advised to eat, on what health professionals are being told to advise their patients to eat and on what ways our children will be taught to eat for the years to come.


By demanding that scientific integrity be upheld and demanding that food producers and industry are prohibited from having any association with our dietary guidelines we can ensure that the UK population find a healthier way to eat and live. And in the process save millions of pounds and more importantly millions of lives.


Join us in signing this petition – speak up and tell the UK Government to start rethinking the way that dietary guidelines are created and reviewed, and request the current dietary guidelines are reviewed with a new panel of professionals who have no food industry bias and conflicts of interest.




Conflicts of Interest from Eatwell Guide external reference group

1.) Lisa Jackson (Chair), Association for nutrition

Founding & Honorary Fellows of the Association for Nutrition are funded by (and even employees of) companies such as Unilever, Mars and Coca-Cola

2.) Alison Nelson, British Dietetic Association

Key Supporters for 2015 Yakult & Nestle, Strategic Partners for 2016 Belvita Breakfast Biscuits (owned by Mondelez, one of the world's largest snacks companies), Danone, Abbott Nutrition

3.) Karen Tonks, Institute of Grocery Distribution

Members include, Nestle, Birds Eye, British Sugar, Coca Cola, Danone, General Mills, PepsiCo, Red Bull, United Biscuits, Unilever, Weetabix, Warburtons, Walkers Snacks, Yakult

4.) Judy Buttriss, British Nutrition Foundation

Members include, Birds Eye, British Sugar, Coca Cola, Danone, General Mills, Greggs, Heinz, Kelloggs, KPSnacks, M&S, Mars, McCain, McDonalds, Nestle, PepsiCo, Quorn, Tate & Lyle, Unilever, United Biscuits, Warburtons, Weetabix

5.) Andrea Martinez-Inchausti, British Retail Consortium

Members include, Burger King, KFC, Greggs, Iceland, McDonalds

6.) Kate Halliwell, Food & Drink Federation

Members include, British Sugar, Cadbury’s (subsidiary of Mondelez, one of the world’s largest snacks companies), Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Unilever, United Biscuits, Warburtons, Walkers Snacks, Weetabix

7.) James Lowman, Association of Convenience Stores

Represents convenience stores, who all sell processed and convenience foods

8.) Modi Mwatsuma, UK Health Forum


9.) Helen Donovan, Royal College of Nursing


10.) Esther Trenchard, Associate Director of Public Health


11.) Maureen Strong, Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board

Represents meat and milk industries 




Conflicts of interest from SACN - Carbohydrate and Health report

Chair, Ian Macdonald - Nestle Research Center, Unilever, Mars UK/Europe, Coca-Cola


1.) Prof. Annie Anderson - None

2.) Dr Mark Beattie - Nestle

3.) Alison Eastwood - Unsure

4.) Christine Gratus - None

5.) Prof. Alan Jackson - Unsure

6.) Prof. Ian Johnson - Barry Callebaut (consultancy), one of the worlds largest chocolate producers

7.) Prof. Timothy Keys - None

8.) Prof. Julie Lovegrove - Danone, PepsiCo, Sugar Nutrition UK, Unilever, Sainsburys

9.) Dr David Mela - Unilever (employee and shareholder)

10.) Prof. Angus Walls - Glaxo Smith Kline

11.) Prof. Ian Young - Unilever, The sugar Bureau 

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