The government has introduced new proposals to tackle the issue of childhood obesity in the UK. With these new measures, it seems the government is admitting that the previous policy was simply not effective enough. Mandatory calorie labelling on menus and stricter measures on junk food advertising are just some of actions that could be implemented.
Childhood Obesity is a Significant Problem
Currently, one in three children are overweight or obese when they leave primary school. Obesity across the UK is estimated to cost the NHS £5.1 billion per year, with a cost to the wider economy of £27 billion.
Less than two years after the government launched a highly criticised policy that called for the food and drink industry to reduce sugar in their products voluntarily, more plans have been proposed. The Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt has acknowledged that “it is near impossible to shield children from exposure to unhealthy foods” but is determined to ensure that more children will be healthier by 2030.
A New Plan of Action
By the end of 2018, the government should be launching consultations on a range of measures to tackle childhood obesity. The plan is to halve the number of obese children within the next twelve years. Some of these measures include the following:
- Stopping supermarkets from displaying unhealthy foods at checkouts, aisle ends and shop entrances.
- Preventing the inclusion of products high in fat, salt and sugar in buy-one-get-one-free deals.
- An end to the sales of energy drinks to children.
- Calorie labelling to be included on menus in restaurants, cafes and takeaways.
- The introduction of a 9pm watershed for unhealthy product advertising products, with similar measures being introduced online.
Not Everyone is in Favour of the Plans
Although the new plans sound promising, they have still been met with certain criticisms. Food writer and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe has stated that more needs to be done to address the link between poverty and obesity. Monroe went on to state that “we need to make healthy foods cheaper and easier to access”.