As part of their campaign promises in the run-up to the leadership election, UK political party Labour has pledged to ban sugary food TV adverts before 9pm. It comes as part of their plans to work towards halving UK childhood obesity within 10 years.
Currently, as the government website notes from January 2017, nearly a third of children aged between two to 15 are classed as overweight or obese. It is having a signifiant impact on the health of the nation, and obese adults are considered to be seven times more likely to become type 2 diabetic than adults of a healthy weight. Along with physical conditions such as heart disease, they are also more likely to live with depression.
The UK spends more per year on treating obesity and diabetes than on the police, fire service and judicial system combined.
There are also significant costs to the economy, with more spent per year on treating obesity and diabetes than on the police, fire service and judicial system combined. It is thought that between 2014-15, the NHS in England spent £5.1 billion on overweight of obesity-related illnesses.
The current conservative government has a number of plans in action in an attempt to curb childhood obesity. This includes introducing a soft drinks industry levy across the UK. They have also pledged to double the Primary PE and Sport Premium, and put an additional £10 million back into the school healthy breakfast club schemes annually. In addition to this, they are challenging food and drinks producers to reduce take out 20% of sugar in their products by 2020, with a 5% reduction expected in year one. The aim is to naturally reduce how much sugar everyone is consuming without relying on individual behaviour changes.
The conservative government are challenging food and drinks producers to reduce take out 20% of sugar in their products by 2020, with a 5% reduction expected in year one.
For Labour, if they win the leadership race in June, they want to make TV adverts one of their points of focus. As Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told BBC Radio 4: “It’s time to do something about it [childhood obesity], something big and bold. [That’s] why we’re going to apply the rules, which currently apply to children’s TV, to TV more generally, so that when you’re sat down with your family watching the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, you’re not going to have adverts for junk food. There is research that shows children see the adverts for McDonalds [for example], and then they hassle their parents to go to McDonalds.”
In addition to this strategy, Ashworth claimed they would publish a new childhood obesity strategy within their first 100 days of being in office. They also plan to set up a £250 million annual child health fund to support the strategy.
At the moment, sugary food TV adverts are banned in the instances where children will make up 25% of the audience. However, in July this is being extended to all non-broadcast media. Action for Sugar has previously criticised the government for their ‘disappointing obesity strategy’ and lack of robust, effective response.