23 May 2018 A continuation of the conversation….Childhood Obesity Plan Chapter 2 confirmed
Yesterday, Steve Brine, Secretary of State for Primary Care and Public Health, confirmed the Government will be publishing the next chapter of the Childhood Obesity Plan.
This is fantastic news given that amount of missed opportunities in the original strategy, published back in August 2016. Whilst the Government should be commended for the successful introduction and response to the Soft Drinks Industry Levy in April 2018, apart from this there has been either little to no action on some of the key commitments outlined in the strategy, or simply little progress. The latter, for example, can be demonstrated in the first year results from the sugar reduction programme, which challenged industry to cut the amount of sugar in 8 food categories most popular with children. Results have shown that on the whole, industry have failed to rise to the challenge and play their part in the fight against childhood obesity.
We hope to see many of the commitments originally set out by David Cameron’s Conservative Government, but were later scrapped when Theresa May took office. These include:
- Reducing children’s exposure to junk food marketing across all platforms of advertising. There is an overwhelming body of evidence that suggests exposure to unhealthy food and drink cues have negatively influence children’s eating habits and weight status. Junk food marketing is a significant contributor to the obesogenic environment, and current restrictions do not go far enough to protect children from the marketing pursuits of the food industry. We are supporting the Obesity Health Alliance’s calls for a 9pm watershed on all junk food marketing, given that current loopholes mean that children can see see adverts for unhealthy foods during general audience viewing times, such as the X-Factor and Coronation Street. We would also like to see the same tactic for online junk food marketing, and whilst this platform is more difficult to regulate, more children now spend more time online than they do watching television.
- Restricting promotions on unhealthy food and drink across all retail environments. Perceived value is an important driver in consumer purchasing habits, and research shows the large majority of promotions on food and drink relate to foods high in fat, sugar and salt.
- Other areas for consideration include a more robust sugar and calorie reduction programme, whereby industry are punished for not meeting targets. Restricting fast food outlets within school premesis, promoting more opportunities for active travel to school and work, mandatory front of pack nutrition labelling, improving school food and more.
Childhood obesity continues to worsen, which will have significant negative impact on children’s short term and long term health. We welcome this news of a new strategy, and hope it outlines a range of appropriate action to help promote healthier environments for the future generation.