Nutrition in the news
29th September 2023
Written by HRS Communications
Updates from the latest guidelines, providing a few takeaways from each.
In the world of nutrition, staying informed is paramount. In the latest nutrition update, we dive into the most recent developments from prominent UK guidelines, including the NICE obesity guidelines1, SACN provisions for 1-5-year-olds2, and the pressing topic of processed meat consumption. As a result, we’ve extracted some key insights from each of these guidelines.
1. NICE Obesity Guidelines
The recent updates to the NICE obesity guidelines reveal significant insights. Notably, these updates introduce new recommendations, particularly concerning bariatric surgery for individuals facing issues of overweight and obesity. The guidelines stress the critical role of specialised weight management services when referring adults for bariatric surgery assessments, with a strong emphasis on ensuring long-term follow-up care.
Moreover, the guidelines consider the diverse ethnic backgrounds of individuals, encompassing South Asian, Chinese, other Asian, Middle Eastern, Black African, and Caribbean populations. They suggest lowering BMI thresholds by 2.5kg/m2 for these groups, potentially expanding eligibility for weight management services. This move aims to combat the prevalence of overweight and obesity while reducing the healthcare costs shouldered by the NHS.
Furthermore, these guidelines underscore the importance of providing comprehensive information to patients regarding their dietary intake and post-surgery support. During assessments, patients should receive personalised guidance, including advice on nutritional supplementation, information about available support resources, and strategies for achieving sustainable, long-term weight management. These updates collectively enhance the clarity and effectiveness of the NICE obesity guidelines, empowering healthcare professionals to address the pressing issue of obesity more effectively.
2. SACN food provision for 1–5-year-olds
The SACN provisions for 1–5-year-olds report was undertaken to assess the scientific basis of current dietary guidelines for children. It drew upon data from two extensive national surveys to gauge food consumption and nutrient intake in this age group. The overarching finding of the report is that the existing diets of young children fall short of meeting recommended nutrient levels.
One of the paramount insights gleaned from the report pertains to portion sizes and meals offered in preschool settings. It revealed a significant association between larger portions and short-term increases in food and energy intake (less than 6 months). Moreover, the report found that heightened consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) among children aged 1-5 years correlated with greater increases in BMI during childhood and
adolescence. Furthermore, the report underscores the importance of children aged 1-5 years should be consuming milk, water, or breast milk as their beverages.
To promote healthier eating habits, the report highlights the need to reduce free sugar and excess protein intake and lower the consumption of energy-dense, high-saturated-fat, salty, and sugary foods and snacks. These findings and recommendations collectively emphasise the significance of fostering healthier dietary habits in early childhood.
3. Eating Better calls for the significant reduction in processed meat consumption3
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines processed meat as “any meat that undergoes transformations through processes such as salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other methods to enhance flavour or extend preservation”. While pork and beef are the most common sources of processed meats, they may also include other red meats, poultry, offal, or meat by-products like blood4.
Currently, in the UK, approximately one-third of all meat consumed falls into the category of processed meat across all age groups. This report emphasises the urgent need to reduce processed meat intake, supported by compelling evidence linking it to an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, ischaemic heart disease, and various cancers.
Beyond health concerns, it is crucial to reduce processed meat consumption due to its substantial contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Food systems account for one-third of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, and without changes in meat consumption, meeting environmental targets remains unlikely.
The report’s key findings underline the dual imperative of reducing high processed meat consumption to advance both health and climate objectives. Processed meat, well-known for its detrimental health impacts, emerges as a central focus for reducing meat consumption. Encouragingly, public sector caterers are encouraged to take the lead in serving fewer processed meats, promoting healthier dietary choices. Furthermore, there is a clarion call for comprehensive health policies that holistically address both health and climate change concerns, with explicit objectives to guide action. A pressing recommendation encourages for the government guidelines to be revised to include specific limits on meat consumption. These measures not only pave the way for a healthier population but also contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally responsible food system.
In conclusion, these guidelines have yielded valuable recommendations and key insights. For more detailed information, we encourage you to refer to the official guidelines themselves.
Charlie Robinson, HRS Marketing & Nutrition Intern
1. NICE. Overview | Obesity: identification, Assessment and Management | Guidance | NICE [Internet]. Nice.org.uk. NICE; 2022 [cited 2023]. Available from: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg189
2. SACN. Feeding Young Children Aged 1 to 5 Years – Summary Report [Internet]. GOV.UK. 2023 [cited 2023 Sep]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sacn-report-feeding-young-children-aged-1-to-5-years/feeding-young-children-aged-1-to-5-years-summary-report
3. Eating Better. It’s Time to Act on Processed Meat [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Sep]. Available from: https://eating-better.org/site/assets/files/6465/its_time_to_act_on_processed_meat_final-1.pdf
4.World Health Organization. Cancer: Carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat [Internet]. www.who.int. 2015. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/cancer-carcinogenicity-of-the-consumption-of-red-meat-and-processed-meat