Belfast Telegraph

Proposal to ban junk food TV ads 'must apply in Northern Ireland'

By Sally Wardle

Any ban on junk food TV adverts before 9pm that the UK government introduces to combat childhood obesity should be brought in to Northern Ireland too, campaigners have said.

Mandatory calorie labelling on menus, a ban on energy drink sales to children, an end to unhealthy products at supermarket checkouts, and junk food TV ads not being permitted before the 9pm watershed are among a raft of measures announced.

Campaigners praised the "bold" and "ambitious" commitments in the second chapter of the government's childhood obesity strategy, but urged swift action to deliver the proposals.

Margaret Carr, Cancer Research UK's public affairs manager in Northern Ireland, said: "The UK government's decision to consult on a 9pm watershed for the advertising of junk food is a welcome step towards helping people keep a healthy weight.

"TV advertising is powerful and we know young people are more than twice as likely to be obese if they remember seeing a junk food advert every day.

"Obesity is one of the major health challenges of our time and can have devastating consequences. It's the biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking, responsible for 570 cases in Northern Ireland every year.

"It's encouraging the government has committed to introducing laws to restrict supermarket multi-buy offers on unhealthy food. Regulation of these promotions would be an effective way to help everyone make healthier food choices. We hope, in time, similar measures will be introduced in Northern Ireland."

Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "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."

The government said it will launch consultations on a range of measures by the end of the year, in a bid to halve the number of obese children within 12 years.

Belfast Telegraph

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