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Last Updated: Friday, 1 October, 2004, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
Are smaller chocolate bars a good idea?
Chocolate Bars
Confectionery firms are to stop making some of their king-size chocolate bars as part of a drive to combat obesity.

Reducing portion sizes is one of the seven key pledges set out in the first Manifesto for Food and Health published by the Food and Drink Federation whose members include Coca Cola, Nestle and Kraft foods.

The seven pledges also include making food labels clearer and making food products healthier by continuing to reduce sugar, salt and fat levels.

Primary schools will remove all vending machines unless specifically requested.

What do you think about the pledges? Are smaller chocolates a good idea? Will you miss king-size chocolate bars? Or will it encourage you to eat more healthily?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:

This topic was suggested by Susan, England
The axing of king-size confectionery to tackle obesity.

As a fatty I don't think I've ever had a super size anything (nor two chocolates at once) but I am trying hard to eat healthier and I think stopping super-size food is not the real issue. The real issue is that our local corner shops, petrol station shops etc offer no healthy alternatives. Please, please suppliers give us an alternative to chocolate such as fresh chopped fruit or veggies to snack.
Tanya, Woodley

Perhaps we should be more like Northern Europe and make confectionary more expensive, whilst also bringing the price of fresh fruit down. In Scandinavia you'll be lucky to find a chocolate bar cheaper than 80p, but fruit and veg are widely available at very reasonable prices. At a high street supermarket in the UK a chocolate bar only costs 35p but a salad or fruit bowl can cost over 2!!
Sam Hutchinson, Newbury, UK

Good move for them. They sell smaller bars where the profit is undoubtedly more and blame it on the government. They win all round and yet again we can't make up our own minds about these things.
Dave, Chester

A subsidy on fresh vegetables would do 100 times as much good as making a Mars bar shorter. As it is, the supermarkets are all chasing the organic minded middle classes and not leaving the poor with an affordable way to healthy food. Chocolate bars are irrelevant.
Kristian, London

Reading this article has really put me in the mood for a Mars bar! Bad BBC!
Fiona, Dumbarton

I'd rather see tobacco style health warnings on "snacks" that contain as many calories as a healthy meal than see the product removed from sale. We need to have the calorie count more in our face but we shouldn't be denied an informed choice.
David R, Plymouth, UK

The obesity problem will not go away no matter what the food industry does
Sandi Rushton, Manchester, UK
This is going to have little or no impact on obesity, as those people who buy king-size bars will just buy 2 smaller ones instead. The obesity problem will not go away no matter what the food industry does, unless people realise themselves that they need to eat healthier. The blame lies with us, the public, not the food manufacturers.
Sandi Rushton, Manchester, UK

Why should manufacturers reduce the size of the bars? We need to educate the people to eat healthily and not blame the manufacturers for their bad eating habits. If you eat too much of anything it's bad for you, but it should be your choice and not the choice of the nanny state.
Lyn, High Wycombe, Bucks

Surely one should make the chocolate bars heavier? The additional exercise carrying them back from the shop would burn off excess calories!
Martin, Northern England

Has anybody thought about the risks of passive chocolate eating?
Ian, Chelmsford, England

Public opinion favours smaller portions
Tom, Dundee, Scotland
The move to curb king-size portions by the confectionary firms is nothing more than an exercise in public relations. Currently, public opinion favours smaller portions, so the companies are just marketing their product appropriately. It is sad however, that this backlash against larger portions is caused by the public blaming manufacturers for causing obesity within society. As many other readers point out, this move will only reduce the choice of confectionary available to the public. It will not reduce obesity whatsoever. But it sure is a smart PR move by the confectionary firm.
Tom, Dundee, Scotland

The "king size" branding of chocolate bars is a relatively recent developement, presumably an attempt by the food industry to increase sales. If the whole population ate only the required amount of food then the potential for profit would be finite. The food industry can only increase profits by persuding us to over eat.
Robert Henderson, Basing, Hants

It seems that these small measures are being taken by companies desperate to show willing with the government to stop measures being enforced on them to highlight the poor nutritional values of their products. Having said that we have to take some responsibility for our own food consumption. I don't believe anyone would consume a king sized mars bar thinking it is a healthy option. We need to stop blaming others i.e. the food companies and our government for decisions we make for ourselves everyday and start taking responsibility for our own health.
Felicity, UK

Too much nanny state, not enough personal responsibility
Terry, Epsom
Too much nanny state, not enough personal responsibility and too little education. We make the decisions the result is our own fault. Good education - from both schools and parents - would result in "bad" foods being unsellable. Market forces win again!
Terry, Epsom

My godness, everyone on this debate is being incredibly offensive to overweight people. some people 'play the victim' and claim the glandular card but me and many people like me just like to live a good life of food and alcohol, and everyone else seems to have a problem with that! this is not any kind of law it's chocolate companies realising that many of the consumers are yuoung children going to the local sweet shop and seeing a small chocolate bar or a bigger one for a minimal additional cost. surely we can all agree that young children are impressionable by this kind of marketing?
Ed, London

Why should all the people that just seem incapable of not eating to much spoil it for the rest of us? It's about time these people stopped looking to who is to blame for their condition, if they are fat because they eat too much chocolate or fast food then they should stop. This is really just another part of blame culture. If you are fat (and have no medical condition) then eat less and move more. Basic maths, eat less calories than you use and you will lose weight. Eat sensibly at the same time and you may even become healthy.
David, Berlin, Germany

The stopping of king size bars will have no effect on reducing obesity. I adore chocolate and if I am unable to find a big size bar then I buy 4 or even 5 small size ones instead.
Samina Khan, Redhill, UK

People choose what goes in their mouth. However, sugar and carbs have an addictive effect that makes you feel hungry when you're not. It's easier to finish a big bar when a small bar would satisfy. But if you can't set yourself limits, you'll end up fat. Cut out (or at least cut down on) the refined sugar and processed foods, walk a lot more and you'll lose weight. Too much input and not enough energy output results in obesity. Essentially, you are what you choose to eat.
Wendy, Virginia, USA

Keep the King-size Mars bar! It's a better size for the average adult
John M, LyneMeads,UK
Keep the King-size Mars bar! It's a better size for the average adult. Eating beyond the limits of one's appetite is what leads to obesity not the size of individual chocolate bars. Obesity existed long before the King-size bars appeared. Those who ate too many King-sized bars will simply eat more of the smaller ones but the rest of us will be deprived of the enjoyment of an occasional good-size treat!
JohnM, LyneMeads,UK

Why should those of us who know when to stop eating be deprived of the enjoyment of the occasional king-sized chocolate bar when everyone knows that fat people are fat because they eat too much of everything - small bars, medium bars or king-sized bars?
John M, Lyne Meads,UK

Noooooooooo!!! King-size Snickers have kept me going all through my PhD. That and regular trips to the university climbing wall. It's not the size of the chocolate bar that makes people overweight, its the quantity they consume and lack of exercise.
Dan Driscoll, Guildford, UK

Why stop at the king-size? Why not ban chocolate all together. And pizza, kebabs, fizzy drinks, butter etc. If we have no choice whatsoever, then how are we supposed to learn any responsibility? And what result do they expect? Will the UK be devoid of overweight people because they can't buy a king size Mars bar? And let's face it, the chip shop next door is probably selling foot long hot dogs. Yum!
Wayne Donaldson, Belfast, Northern Ireland

The super-sized bars are great for sharing...
Caron, England

I am sick of the hysteria surrounding "big portions". All that fat people will do is buy 2 smaller bars instead of one big one. Amazingly this will mean fat people getting fatter as 2 bars are bigger than one of the jumbo bars. Where will it end - will chip shops have to serve a set number of chips, will I only be able to get an 11 inch pizza? The problem is not with the size of the food but the people who eat it everyday of their lives.
Dan, Leeds

People will buy two bars
Andrew, Cardiff
It's up to the individual if they want to eat a king-size or not. Unlike smoking it does not harm any third parties. What will happen is that people will buy two bars instead of the 1 king-size
Andrew, Cardiff

I'm sick and tired of this nanny state attitude. I will now have to buy two bars probably at a combined higher price. Are you sure it isn't a scam to make more money? Are they going to stop multi-buy packs in the supermarkets too?
Jonathan, London, UK

Surely I'm not the only person who cons themselves into believing a large portion is OK but 2 portions is greedy? Only having the option of the small size will make more people think whether they really need the extra chocolate enough to buy two!
Katy, Manchester, UK

What needs to be done to really combat obesity is to stop the ridiculous amount of advertising of sweets, chocolates, fizzy drinks, fatty fast foods etc that occurs during kid's TV programmes.
Simon, London

I doubt that all but the tiniest percentage of people are overweight as a result of glandular deficiencies, and the vast majority simply need to exercise occasionally. My overweight friend began attending Tae Kwan Do with me a few months back, and besides now being a yellow belt, is 60 pounds lighter, not to mention the fact that he has probably put on about 20 pounds of muscle. If you want to lose weight a smaller bar won't help you, a couple hours weekly of exercise will.
Philip, Ottawa, Canada

It isn't the size of the chocolate bar that is to blame, it is the frequency that chocolate is eaten
Z Linnell, Bucks, UK
It isn't the size of the chocolate bar that is to blame, it is the frequency that chocolate is eaten. Not just chocolate, but all processed foods. We eat it all too often. We eat the quick and easy foods because we know no other way. We have to work just to keep our heads above water, leaving us no time for what ought to be more important. How many of us have a veggy patch in the garden, or have an allotment? Bet we all have a bar of chocolate in the cupboard and ice cream in the freezer and a tin of sugary baked beans handy for an emergency.
Z Linnell, Bucks, UK

Yes, I agree that what we are seeing now, these monster sized chocolate bars, need to be reduced in size. However, in doing that there is nothing to stop people buying several smaller bars! The thing to do is to reduce sugar by the maximum amount! Perhaps increasing cocoa levels would make the bars healthier and possibly tastier?
Chris Green, Hagley, Worcs, England

Sorry to be controversial, but they've been doing this for years anyhow... And the nation as a whole has got fatter. This is only an example of the blame culture. (With the exception of those who have a genuine medical issue causing their obesity), if you're fat it's your own fault. Not the government's fault, nor that of the manufacturers, suppliers or advertisers of fatty foods, is your fault alone!
Paul Sealey, Cannock, England

I never eat the king sized bars. Service stations and trains are the worst, you can't buy a normal bag of crisps, only over-priced "grab packs", all the better to rip us off with.
Rob , UK

Anyone that tries to blame the manufacturers should accept some responsibility for their own actions
Chris, UK
It will make no difference at all, except the smaller bars will be the same price as the larger ones are now. People do not eat unhealthily because confectionery manufacturers push their products on them, they do it from personal choice. Anyone that tries to blame the manufacturers should accept some responsibility for their own actions, similarly to the smokers that try to blame tobacco companies so they can get some money from them (I smoke myself and blame no-one but my own foolish choices). Time for us all to grow up and not expect the state to nanny us constantly.
Chris, UK

Gimmick! Corny as it may sound, it's not what you're eating it's what's eating you. It's what's missing in people's lives that causes them to compensate themselves with edible entertainment, it really won't matter what size a few chocolate bars are.
Alex, Nottingham, England

Proper Chocolate (at least 50% cocoa solids) is one of life's great pleasures, and it's not fattening. The rubbish they sell in our newsagents is not worthy of the name "Chocolate". By all means reduce the size of the bars - anything to stop people from eating it, and hopefully weaning them onto the real stuff, must be a good thing.
John, England

It's a great idea. Great that is for shareholders because without a shadow of a doubt the smaller bars will cost more on a percentage basis than the bigger ones. It's a classic consumer mugging based on the pretence of being socially responsible.
Dick, Scotland

People who like their food will just carry on buying food no matter how big or small the portions are.
Chris, London

When are those in power going to fix the things that matter like hospital waiting lists, crime figures etc. rather than sticking their nose in to every aspect of our lives and ordering us how to live? Are they so dim as not to realise that if someone wants to eat too much they will buy too much even if it means buying more than one bar.
K Brown, Fleet UK

What a brilliant idea. Now confectionery firms can charge more for less!
Asif Givashi, London

As a grown adult I reserve the right to eat a king size bar if I choose
Anon, UK

As a grown adult I reserve the right to eat a king size bar if I choose. If someone really wants a king size they can just buy two smaller ones.
Anon, UK

Completely ridiculous. If you can't choose healthy food you need to talk to someone about it, not penalise those who have an ounce of common sense. If you are worried about your weight, why not just avoid confectionery - or is that too obvious?
David, UK

Whatever happened to choice? If I want to buy (and eat) a 'kingsize' chocolate bar (And yes I know the health risks involved) it's nobody's business but mine! Hands off my chocolate!
James, Bath, UK

If anything should be made illegal it the 'fun' size bars. What's 'fun' about getting a smaller bar of chocolate!
Steve, Manchester, UK

I can guarantee that the prices won't decrease if the chocolate bars get smaller. So people get less for their money...
Nathan James, Liverpool, UK

I don't want to be smug about the idea of dropping the 'super size' snack bars, but when they first started appearing, I knew it was a ploy to get us to eat more. It's a conspiracy! We're being fattened up by aliens. Time to fight back.
Nick, UK

Oh please. How much more nanny-state pandering are we going to put up with? I don't suppose the brain donor who came up with this idea even considered that some people might, heaven forbid, buy twice as much of something if it's half as big?
Steve Payne, Leicester, UK

Reducing sugar, salt and fat would be a significant step forward. I don't think that stopping the king-size bars will make any difference. If a person chooses king-size it's because that's the amount they want. They will just choose two smaller bars instead.
Alan, Perth, Scotland

I'm sorry but why should us skinny people have to forgo our pleasures because some people just don't know when to stop eating? It won't stop people buying more of the little bars to make up for it though, so what's will they do then? Ration sweet food? pah.
Anon, Brighton

Brilliant way for the confectionary firms to make more profits as the smaller bars will cost more proportionately and chocolate eaters will buy more smaller ones. The only way to encourage healthier eating is by educating parents, teachers and children of the dangers of eating food products like chocolates and most cold drinks that are overfilled with sugar.
Raymond Rudaizky, London U.K.

This will reduce the sale of chocolate considerably. I for one will not pay the overpriced rate for smaller portions under the guise of helping our health. I will simply stop buying it.
Keith, Sunderland, UK

I suppose its a good idea and we should applaud the industry for trying to do something, but what about taking responsibility for your own actions? If I choose to buy a king size chocolate bar that isn't the fault of the manufacturer its my choice. We are all getting far too good at trying blame someone else for our problems. Most overweight people has chosen to be that way by choosing to eat too much - its not fair to try to balme the likes of Cadbury for their lack of self control is it?
Gavin, Brent Knoll, England

I was recently stuck on the M1 for 4 hours, after which I went to a Service Station to get my two toddlers a snack. Faced only with oversized packet of crisps and king size chocolate bars, I stormed out empty handed. If the manufacturers think I am stupid enough to buy their massive portions - to make them richer, and my children fat, then they should think again. They missed a sale that day, and they will miss many more from me, unless they make smaller portions.
maria ballantyne, milton keynes, UK

I think super sizing has had an effect on society. It has encouraged people to eat more and it's disappearance won't hurt. I'm not sure that it's not already too late though.
Kim, Lowestoft, Suffolk

Just stick a 'This will make you fat' warning on them instead.
Al, W'Ton, UK

Pledges are ok, if the Company concerned will actually act upon it and keep its word. Smaller chocolates are a joke, people will buy double. The king size should go. Supermarkets should try making fresh fruit and veg more cheaply to buy, then perhaps the consumer will buy more.
Rosie, Birmingham, UK

Q&A: Obesity
26 May 04  |  Medical notes

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