Snacks attacked in tackling childhood obesity

A report to tackle childhood obesity states that eating should be banned on public transport and extra taxes placed on unhealthy foods. As reported by the BBC, England’s outgoing chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, also called for tighter rules on advertising and takeaways.

The proportion of obese and overweight children has doubled in the past 30 years, with approximately a third obese or overweight by the age of 11 in England – with a minority but growing number classed as severely obese. Davies put forward several measures in the report, including:

  • Phasing out all marketing, advertising, and sponsorship of unhealthy food and drink
  • Banning food and drink on local transport with exceptions for water, breast-feeding and medical conditions
  • Changing planning rules to make it harder to open fast-food takeaways
  • Extending the sugar tax to include milk-based drinks
  • Adding VAT to unhealthy food products that are currently zero-rated, such as cakes
  • Capping calories in the food served out of the home to combat rising portion sizes.

The recommendation banning eating and drinking on public transport gained a lot of attention. While aimed at school children on local transport, the ban will also apply to adults – Dame Sally wants them to model good behaviour. The government in England published its last obesity strategy in 2018. The goal is to halve rates by 2030. None of Davies’ recommendations are part of the current measures. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said ministers would study the recommendations “closely”.

Chris Askew, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, commented on the report saying, “This is an urgent and ambitious call to action. The government has committed to halving childhood obesity by 2030, but their action so far has been insufficient. Today’s report shows what must be done to tackle this issue now. It is a fact that being overweight or obese significantly increases your risk of Type 2 diabetes. It is incredibly concerning that there are now nearly 7000 children and young adults with Type 2 diabetes when, historically, this is a condition that was only seen in older people. The bold and decisive recommendations outlined mean that this report cannot be ignored. The government must be brave and take urgent actions to affect the change we all want and need.”

Read the full BBC report here.

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