Junk food restrictions COULD turn the tide on obesity: Tackling stigma and tightening rules around food sales could boost efforts to make Britons healthier, experts say
- Government could be the first in the world to reverse the obesity trend
- Ten-Year Strategy Requires Tougher Restrictions on Junk Food Marketing
- It says ministers need to address the ‘weight bias and stigma’ people experience
According to a group of charities and experts, Britain can ‘turn the tide’ against rising obesity by tackling stigma and tightening the rules around food sales.
The government could become the first in the world to reverse the trend in weight gain if it takes tough action, claims the Obesity Health Alliance.
The 10-year strategy, published today, calls for tougher restrictions on junk food marketing and much stronger promotion of healthier alternatives.
It says ministers should address the ‘weight bias and stigma’ experienced by obese people and ‘reframe’ obesity as a matter of ‘collective, rather than personal, responsibility’.
Today, 68 percent of men and 60 percent of women are overweight, with 27 percent and 29 percent obese, respectively
The report states that people are exposed to an “obesogenic environment” from birth – “an environment in which low-calorie, nutrient-poor foods are accessible, plentiful, affordable and normalized and in which physical activity is not built into everyday life.”
The alliance, which includes the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK and royal medical colleges, said successive governments have failed to tackle the problem.
In 2014/15 the NHS spent £6.1bn treating obesity-related ill health and this is expected to rise to £9.7bn a year by 2050.
Today, 68 percent of men and 60 percent of women are overweight, with 27 percent and 29 percent obese, respectively.
Professor Dame Anne Johnson, chair of the expert working group advising the alliance, said: ‘If the government is committed to bold new policies, we can turn the tide, reduce obesity and significantly improve the health of our country.’ The alliance supported the government’s plans to introduce a 9 p.m. TV catchment area and a ban on paid online advertising of unhealthy food and drinks.
It also recommends policies that restrict access to unhealthy items, including licensing retailers or limiting hours when products can be sold.
The alliance, which includes the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK and royal medical colleges, said successive governments have failed to tackle the problem
Other suggestions included mandatory nutrient labeling on the front of the pack. Separately, it said there should be more clarity on employers’ legal responsibility not to discriminate against staff on the basis of weight.
Professor Linda Bauld, academic project leader, said: ‘Turning the tide against obesity is feasible. In the same three decades in which obesity continued to rise, the number of smokers in the UK has halved – achieved through a series of comprehensive government strategies.”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said: “The new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities will be launched next month, which will lead national efforts to tackle obesity, improve mental health and promote physical activity.”