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Retailers sign up to reduce calories

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Food and drink retailers including Asda, Coca-Cola and Tesco have signed up to a government scheme designed to tackle England's obesity epidemic.

A total of 17 companies have promised to cut the number of calories in their products and have agreed to look into developing new low calorie brands.

Coca-Cola has pledged to reduce the number of calories in its products by 2014; Asda will develop a new reduced calorie brand across a wide range of products; and Mars will cap the calories of their chocolate items to 250 calories per portion by the end of next year.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said the changes would encourage million of people to eat and drink more healthily.

However, Charlie Powell, campaigns director for the Children's Food Campaign said the coalition's announcement represented little more than a token gesture.

'We note that the calorie reduction examples only cover small proportions of companies' products and that big names such as McDonald's, Burger King and KFC are conspicuously missing,' he said.

'New ranges are all very well, but every food company should commit to permanently reducing calories across all their products.'

The scheme forms part of the government's Responsibility Deal, which urges retailers to consider public health issues.

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