1. News
March 27, 2017

The UK government is failing when it comes to tackling childhood obesity

It is time to stop offering discounts or price promotions on unhealthy food and drink, according to the Commons health committee.

The committee has published a follow-up report looking into childhood obesity today.

“We welcome the action which some retailers have been taking, in response to customer demand, to rebalance their promotions away from unhealthy food and drink. We look forward to seeing the results of the monitoring of price promotions which Public Health England will be undertaking. Retailers who act responsibly on discounting and promotions should not be put at a competitive disadvantage to those who do not,” the report said.

Aldi and Lidl, the fifth and eighth largest UK supermarket chains respectively have already reduced the number of multi-buy deals on junk food.

However, more retailers need to get on board.

The report attacked the government’s 2016 childhood obesity plans as “inadequate.”

“Vague statements about seeing how the current plan turns out are inadequate to the seriousness and urgency of this major public health challenge,” said Dr Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee.

“These omissions mean that the current plan misses important opportunities to tackle childhood obesity.”

Policy initiatives including the introduction of a sugar levy on soft drinks and a voluntary target to cut sugar in children’s food and drink by 20 percent by 2020 do not go far enough to tackle such a serious problem.

The UK has one of the highest obesity rates among developed countries. By 2050, over 35 percent of boys and 20 percent of girls aged 6-10 are expected to be obese, with obesity-related conditions costing the NHS over £6bn annually.

“It has been nearly eight months since Theresa May pledged to look after the sick and poor as part of her commitment to tackle health inequalities. Now that Article 50 is set to be triggered on Wednesday, it is time for all of the evidence based actions required to tackle childhood obesity, as endorsed by the Health Select Committee, to be implemented immediately,” Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of Action on Sugar said in a statement issued to Verdict.