Health experts highlight need to prioritise children’s health, address Britain’s obesity crisis and “redesign a broken food system that puts profit before health”
The public feels ‘let down’ by the government's failure to bring in a junk-food advertising ban, with high levels of support for more action to create a healthier environment for children.
Statistics from YouGov national polling data indicate that 80% of UK adults support the government banning advertising of unhealthy food to children on TV (79%) and online (81%).
The figures also suggest that 68% of UK adults would support an industry levy being extended beyond soft drinks if the money supported children’s food and health initiatives.
The push for healthier eating coincides with the release of figures from the 2022 National Child Measurement programme. They show that 10% of children aged four to five years old were ‘living with obesity’, and 12% ‘living with overweight’. Of those aged 10-11, 23% were living with obesity and 14% living with overweight.
Dr Kate Allen, Science and Policy Advisor at the World Cancer Research Fund International said that overweight and obesity is now at record levels in the UK.
“It’s a problem that can start early in life,” she said. “Overweight and obesity in children can track into adulthood and store up problems for the future. Global cancer rates are projected to reach 26 million new cases by 2030 and obesity is a key factor driving this increase.”
Professor David Strain, British Medical Association Board of Science Chair said: “As medical professionals, we can see first-hand the devastating effect that obesity is having on both the child and adult population in the UK. The serious risk of illnesses associated with obesity including cancer, heart disease and diabetes highlights just how life-threatening it can be.
“Any future Prime Minister and government must understand the importance of implementing laws and restrictions on the junk food industry that effectively curbs the population’s exposure to the advertising and marketing behind many unhealthy food choices impacting their health.”
“Our country is flooded with cheap, unhealthy, heavily processed food. If it really was as simple as ‘eat less and move more’ we wouldn’t have a dietary health crisis.”
Ben Reynolds, Sustain's Deputy Chief Executive said that while it should be easy for everyone to eat healthily, especially children, it isn’t.
He said: “Our country is flooded with cheap, unhealthy, heavily processed food. If it really was as simple as ‘eat less and move more’ we wouldn’t have a dietary health crisis.
“The public is crystal clear in its appetite for government intervention to redesign the food system to put health first. This provides an open goal for any political party to take leadership on meaningful action on prevention of ill health and set a long-term vision for a healthier and happier nation.”
Katharine Jenner, Director of the Obesity Health Alliance said there was a need to “put children’s health first”, address Britain’s obesity crisis and “redesign a broken food system that puts profit before health”.
She added: “Luckily, there are already policies such as the Soft Drinks Industry Levy that have proven to be effective so all that is required now is to build on this success.”
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