UK Childhood Obesity Plan Deemed ‘Weak’
After a delay in releasing the childhood obesity plan due to Brexit, the plan, which in its draft form was considered “pathetic” by groups such as the Childhood Obesity Strategy (COS), and now has received a “weak” rating.
It’s the British Medical Association now commenting and describing the “watered down” plan as “rowing back” on how the government plans to target the childhood obesity crisis.
In Child’s Obesity’s previous article about the delay, advocates came forward and said that lobbyists for big food weakened the government’s resolve to pursue tougher measures, which impacts the health of about one-third of the youth population that is coined “obese.” Click here for our article.
One earlier critic who continues to slam the government’s plan is Jamie Oliver, television chef, who previously noted in the draft period that the laws must be stronger “for the sake of our children and future generations.”
In follow up with the actual plan, Oliver told the BBC that the plan was “disappointing,” with “so much missing.” He said the plan from the UK Government was more voluntary but lacked mandatory points.
What are some of the initiatives in the plan? One is to direct the beverage and food industries to cut back on sugars in their products by five percent that children enjoy the most, with a 20 percent eventual cut within four years.
The plan also suggests schools, daycare centers and parents at home should encourage children engage in 30 minutes of exercise daily, with more funding for schools’ sports programs through a tax for sugared beverages. There will be a voluntary rating that schools can participate in and be rated when they are inspected.
Public Health England (PHE) in tandem will monitor sugar reduction in the industry, and based on the analytics then the government can return to the drawing board and see if there could be alternative plans put into place if the results of lowering sugar in products voluntarily is not successful.
“Junk Free TV” (click here for the article from Child’s Obesity) was another topic that the UK watchdog groups were proposing, which Cancer Research UK was suggesting a ban on junk food advertising from about 7 to 9 p.m., when children watch television most, to avert cancer. Obesity in children can trigger a bevy of health issues including cancer. This approach was also being reviewed for Canada.
The “Junk Free TV” in the original draft was now axed, especially to limit two-for-one advertisings, which upset not only medical professionals including Dr. Sarah Wollaston (part of the health select committee), but also executives like Mike Coupe of Sainsbury’s, one of the leading supermarket empires in the U.K. Coupe believes that standards should be stricter for sugar content and labeling of items. Though Coupe referred to it as a “welcome first step,” he said the approach should be more holistic, so that children especially are guided with right food choices whether at or away from home.
But, other leaders like Ian Wright from the Food and Drink Federation felt that the big drink manufacturers have already taken strides in sugar reduction, with 16 percent less sugar overall in beverages over the past four years. He also said that there is a combination of ingredients that can birth obesity and sugar should not be the only one targeted. Gavin Partington speaking on behalf of the British Soft Drinks Association said that big beverage manufacturers are being punished with the sugary drink taxes, while other ingredients should be considered in anti-obesity legislation for a more “holistic” approach as well in making a difference in a child’s overall health and weight maintenance.
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