Sales of energy drinks to under-16s set to be banned
New measures including banning caffeine-laden energy drinks to children have been outlined in the government’s Childhood Obesity Plan Chapter 2.
Proposals to counter ‘pester power’ by preventing stores from displaying unhealthy food at checkouts or including it in buy-one-get-one-free deals have also been put forward as part of an ambitious commitment to halving childhood obesity by 2030.
The Department of Health and Social Care will consult on introducing clear, consistent calorie labelling on menus in restaurants, cafés and takeaways, so parents can make an informed choice about what their families are eating.
These measures – if translated into legislation and action – have the potential to transform the health of our nation, and begin turning the tables on the type 2 diabetes time bomb we currently sit upon. Chris Askew, Diabetes UK
The government will consult on introducing new TV and online advertising restrictions to prevent children from being targeted by these unhealthy products, and to incentivise companies to reduce the sugar and calories in the products they sell, the Department of Health and Social Care said. This could include extending the current advertising watershed and considering limiting the number of unhealthy food adverts shown during children’s programmes up to 9pm.
The second chapter of the plan also promotes a new national ambition for every primary school to adopt a daily ‘active mile’ initiative, such as the Daily Mile. This is supported by £620,000 funding for Living Street’s Walk to School project, as well as £1 million to support the Department for Transport’s Bikeability cycling training programme, expected to fund an additional 25,000 training places.
Government will launch a three-year programme to work closely with local authority partners to show what can be achieved within existing powers with a particular focus on inequalities, finding solutions to barriers and sharing best practice with others.
Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, said: “Parents want what is best for their children, but keeping them healthy and active can be difficult.
“It is near impossible to shield children from exposure to unhealthy foods. Parents are asking for help – we know that over three-quarters of parents find offers for sugary sweets and snacks at checkouts annoying. It’s our job to give power to parents to make healthier choices, and to make their life easier in doing so.
“The cost of obesity – both on individual lives and our NHS – is too great to ignore. Today we are taking steps to ensure that by 2030, children from all backgrounds have the help they need for a healthier, more active start in life.”
Diabetes UK welcomed the publication of the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan Chapter 2, especially plans for clear, consistent calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector, a focus of Diabetes UK’s Food Upfront Campaign.
Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “Diabetes UK welcomes the ambitious range of measures outlined by the government in their commitment to tackling the childhood obesity crisis facing the UK. These measures – if translated into legislation and action – have the potential to transform the health of our nation, and begin turning the tables on the type 2 diabetes time bomb we currently sit upon.
“In particular, we welcome the proposed commitment to clear, consistent calorie labelling in restaurants, cafes and takeaways. Research tells us that having this information available helps consumers make healthier choices, so this could, in practice, be an incredibly positive step in the right direction.
“With one in three children either overweight or obese before they leave primary school, it’s clear that bold, decisive action needs to be taken. Being overweight as a child can significantly increase your risk of developing serious conditions like Type 2 diabetes in the future.
“The challenge now will be ensuring that the voices of all those who champion making the healthy choice the easy choice are listened to and for these commitments to become a reality. We hope this second chapter in the Childhood Obesity Plan is the start of a new chapter in our approach to tackling obesity – and in turn Type 2 diabetes – across the UK.”
To view the Childhood Obesity Plan Chapter 2, click here.