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Experts slam 'watered down' child obesity strategy

By Ella Pickover

Published 18/08/2016

Curbs on junk food advertising do not form part of the document, despite repeated calls from health campaigners
Curbs on junk food advertising do not form part of the document, despite repeated calls from health campaigners

Health experts have condemned the Government's "watered-down" childhood obesity strategy.

Curbs on junk food advertising do not form part of the document, despite repeated calls from health campaigners.

The plan has an emphasis on greater physical activity in schools and a voluntary scheme for the food industry to reformulate popular children's products to reduce sugar.

Ministers hope the food industry will cut 20% of sugar from the foods children enjoy such as cereals, yoghurts, sweets, breads and desserts over the next five years, with a 5% cut in the first year. Also central to the plan is the Government's sugar tax on soft drinks which will come into force from 2018.

But health experts and campaigners have expressed their disappointment at the plan.

Malcolm Clark, spokesman for the Children's Food Campaign, said: "This is a truly shocking abdication of the Government's duties to secure the health and future of the next generation."

Professor Parveen Kumar, chairwoman of the British Medical Association's board of science, said: "Poor diet has become a feature of our children's lives, with junk food more readily available, and food manufacturers bombarding children with their marketing every day for food and drinks that are extremely bad for their health.

"It is incredibly disappointing that the Government appears to have failed to include plans for tighter controls on marketing and promotion."

Professor Jane Dacre, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: "I am disappointed that after such a long wait for the childhood obesity strategy, the Government has published a downgraded plan that fails to address key issues such as marketing and promotion of sugar-filled and unhealthy foods to children."

Government officials said they opted for a voluntary sugar reduction scheme over legislation so the food industry could start taking steps immediately.

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