After waiting months for the delayed delivery of the government’s childhood obesity strategy, everyone from children’s health campaigners to the food and drink industry have been left disappointed.
The Faculty of Public Health has said that the strategy “lets down a generation of children” as the nine page document, reduced from 30, has dropped crucial promises set to help reduce childhood obesity across the nation. The plan has been attacked as ‘weak’ and ‘watered down’ but what does the new strategy actually contain?
- Sugar tax. The most positive aspect of the the obesity strategy is the sugar tax. Companies will be taxed in a higher band for fizzy drinks that contain a sugar content above 5g per 100 millilitres. The money raised from the sugar tax is said to be put into school sports across the UK.
- Reduced sugar. The strategy asks the food and industry to cut 5% of the sugar in products popular with children over the next year with the ultimate target at 20%.This cut is voluntary and companies are not obliged to take part, but those that do will escape the sugar tax.
- Increased exercise. The plan encourages schools to ensure children have an extra 30 minutes of exercise at school, while the rest is supported by parents and carers at home. It is said that the money collected from the sugar tax will help fund these activities.
While the above statements put forward by the obesity strategy are generally positive, there are some major measures that did not make an appearance. Having been asked to investigate the issues of overweight or obese primary school children, Public Health England prioritised two measures that slipped through the strategy:
- Banning price-cutting deals for junk food in supermarkets and promotion of unhealthy food to children in restaurants, cafes and takeaways.
- Restricting advertising on unhealthy food to children through family TV shows and on social media and websites.
Children’s health campaigners are up in arms that neither of these measures have appeared in the recently released obesity strategy. Charities and health organisations have fought hard to highlight the impact advertising and promotions have on childhood obesity but they have been ignored.
The Childhood Obesity Strategy has been a disappointment for children’s health campaigners across the country. As the results are far from what we hoped, it’s more important than ever to promote a healthy lifestyle for children. Combatting childhood obesity is going to increasingly rely on child, health, sports and play supporters and we need to fight hard to battle against junk food and inactivity.
Read more about our own research into childhood obesity and healthy children here. To find out how you can combat childhood obesity in your school, get in touch with an advisor today.