Weak ‘childhood obesity’ strategy reveals weakness of new UK prime minister

Compulsory sugar reduction targets are believed better than the Tories' voluntary scheme. [Image: Anthony Devlin/PA].

Compulsory sugar reduction targets are believed better than the Tories’ voluntary scheme. [Image: Anthony Devlin/PA].

How are we to interpret this, other than as an admission of weakness by our new prime minister, Theresa May?

The food manufacturing giants have leaned on her to strip away possible impediments to their profits, leaving a hollowed-out disappointment – and that’s how many experts are starting to consider Mrs May.

This Writer agrees with Steve Topple in The Canary: Mrs May has put the food and drink retailers’ profits before the health of our children, by ignoring the direct links between obesity and poverty.

“Children living in the most deprived 10 per cent of communities are twice as likely to be obese [as] children living in the least deprived 10 per cent of the country,” he writes.

“World Health Organisation (WHO) research from 2010 shows children’s fizzy drink consumption in the UK fell when affluence rose. The same was found for those missing breakfast and not eating fruit. These are two of the biggest influencers of obesity.

“These trends are also seen among adults. Levels of obesity increase as wages fall, as education levels drop, and as class status lowers. Also, rates of obesity are highest in women who work in unskilled manual jobs, which is higher than the rate among unskilled men by more than 10%.

“‘Time Poverty‘ is also a related factor. That is, having to work (paid or unpaid) for very long hours.

Research shows that 7% of children live in households that are both in financial poverty and ‘time poverty’, with a third of adults in these households being in full time work. Also, adults who are both time and income poor have the least leisure time.”

Result: Obesity. And Theresa May will not tackle any of it because her masters in the food and drink industry have her on a tight leash.

Leading retailers have criticised the government’s watered-down childhood obesity strategy, arguing it would be better if ministers imposed mandatory cuts to sugar levels in food rather than leaving it up to voluntary action by manufacturers.

The long-awaited childhood obesity strategy was released by the Department of Health on Wednesday, but was swiftly criticised. Food and drink manufacturers that reduce the amount of sugar in their products by 20 per cent will escape a proposed sugar tax on soft drinks when it is introduced in two years’ time.

The strategy left out two measures that Public Health England had said would have the greatest impact on the childhood obesity epidemic: ending price-cutting promotions of junk food in supermarkets; and restricting advertising of unhealthy food to children through family TV programmes such as Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor, as well as on social media and websites.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), representing grocers, said it was disappointed that the government would only propose voluntary reductions because that could lead to some manufacturers trying to taking advantage by retaining more sugar in their food products.

Source: Childhood obesity: retailers urge mandatory cuts to food sugar levels | Society | The Guardian


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5 thoughts on “Weak ‘childhood obesity’ strategy reveals weakness of new UK prime minister

  1. Stu

    You only need to look as far as Associated British Foods, Britain’s top sugar manufacturer who are major Tory donors (also accused of tax evasion in 2011)

  2. Dez

    The good thing about this situation is that we can all quickly learn that Mrs. Mays words of all in it together and spreading the pain was just further Con claptrap lies. We have another selfish Camoron lookalike leading the Cons…. she is no different….it was just meaningless words trying to get folk on board with the alleged new ways of working and making sure her industry backers get their own way and the populations health does not matter because the tax will pay for the increased obesity and long term health care costs. Make the industries pay for their own clean up costs for their selfish greed.

  3. rockingbass

    Did you know that the problem is that it is not just sugar…..but the amount of all carbohydrates in the diet…and the current dietary guidelines (supported by all the food manufacturers and grocers) which is the current cause of the rise in obesity…see My life Without Bread-Dr Lutz at 90 by Valerie Bracken

  4. John Costello

    We should not be surprised by this – a Conservative government will never ‘get tough’ with big business.

Comments are closed.