It is hoped that the commitment to offer healthier options will help achieve the government’s long-term aim of cutting five billion calories from the nation’s daily diet.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, says: “We all have a role to play – from individuals to public, private and non-governmental organisations – if we are going to cut five billion calories from our national diet. It is an ambitious challenge but the Responsibility Deal has made a great start.

“This pledge is just the start of what must be a bigger, broader commitment from the food industry.”

Pledges include:

  • Asda to develop a reduced calorie brand will contain at least 30% fewer calories than their “Chosen By You” range.
  • Coca-Cola to reduce the calories in some of its soft drinks brands by at least 30% by 2014.
  • Mars will cap the calories of their chocolate items to 250 calories per portion by the end of 2013.
  • Morrisons to launch a range of healthier products developed by their chefs and nutritionists. More than 300 lines will be introduced.
  • Hovis and Mr Kipling maker Premier Foods to reduce calories in one third of their sales by the end of 2014 and at least 30% of new products will be lower calorie choices.
  • Subway has committed to offer five out of their nine “low fat range subs” as part of their £3 lunch offer.
  • Tesco to expand its “Eat, Live and Enjoy” range of low-calorie meals and is making it easier for shoppers to spot low-calorie options through its “Green Ping” labels.

Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Kerry Foods, Kraft, Nestle, PepsiCo, Unilever, Beefeater and contract caterer Compass have also signed up to the calorie reduction pledge.

Despite signing up many of the biggest food manufacturers and retailers, the government has not secured agreements with fast-food chains such as McDonald’s and KFC on calorie reduction.

Tam Fry from the National Obesity Forum told The Daily Mirror that more brands need to play a part.

“Over 20% of manufacturers and marketers haven’t stepped up to sign the pledge and the majority of the ones that have are still only ‘promising’ any kind of action.

“All need to make a commitment like Coca-Cola to reformulate by a specific amount within the tightest timeframe.”

Both McDonald’s and KFC have signed up to previous responsibility deal pledges.

A spokeswoman for KFC says: “We have been involved in discussions with the Department of Health for some time, and signed the calorie labelling and trans fat elimination pledges last year.
“We support moves to reduce the nation’s calorie intake, and have already taken a number of steps in this area, including launching a non-fried, lower calorie range, and encouraging customers to ‘lighten up’ by choosing vegetable sides and diet drinks. We are reviewing the Department’s proposals and working towards signing the appropriate pledges.”

McDonald’s have not yet responded to a request for comment.