Fast food advertisements can be banned completely online, after the government’s decision to ban unhealthy food advertisements before 21:00 online or on television, as part of its strategy to tackle the obesity “time bomb”.
The steps have been welcomed cautiously though some health experts worry they overemphasize individual responsibility for obesity, rather than address health inequality.
The government has said it will ban junk food advertising before 9 pm and hold a brief consultation on whether it should be expanded to a total ban on online candy and fast food ads.
Other measures include a ban on chocolate, chips and candy at the cashier and displaying calories on menus in restaurants and pubs, including for alcoholic drinks, which are estimated to contribute nearly 10% of their calorie intake to those who drink.
Professor Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said the approach did not cover everything as expected by some medical officers, saying it did not take full account of how obesity is “a biological, genetic, and social outcome.” factor “and not just personal choice.
“There is a risk that we will once again fall into a trap mainly focusing on individual responsibility,” he said. “We have taken this road before and it did not work. We know the key to success in overcoming obesity and other health inequalities lies in shared responsibility between individuals and countries. “
The decision to ban junk food advertising has been highlighted as a significant success for obesity campaigners. Open a new package of actions, Boris Johnson and the health secretary, Matt Hancock, underlined how overcoming obesity is a new front in the fight against coronavirus, warning that being overweight puts victims at risk of more severe disease and death.
New measures will include encouraging public information aimed at improving the health of the country after the pandemic. Nearly two-thirds of adults in the UK are overweight or obese, as well as one in three elementary school age children.
Launching the strategy, the government calls obesity a “time bomb” and says the urgency of addressing this problem has been underlined by evidence of an increased risk of coronavirus. Nearly 8% of critically ill patients with Covid-19 in the intensive care unit are obese, compared to 2.9% of the general population.
To promote lauch, No. 10 released a photo of the prime minister, who said he had lost stones since he was hospitalized with Covid-19, taking his dog to walk, Dilyn, on the Checkers yard.
According to an analysis from Cancer Research UK, almost half of all food advertisements shown on ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky One are for products that are high in fat, sugar and salt, up to almost 60% between 6:00 and 9 pm when they are most likely to be seen by children.
Michelle Mitchell, British Cancer ResearchThe chief executive, said endless advertisements for junk food provoked cravings and normalized bad diets, “that is why we have been campaigning endlessly for DAS TV, online restrictions and a multi-purchase ban”.
Caroline Cerny from Obesity The Health Alliance, a coalition of more than 40 organizations, called it an “important step” and said that “Eliminating the sharp focus of junk food and ensuring that only healthy foods can be promoted on TV, online and in our stores and provide more support to help people manage their weight.”
Food Promoted products will also be targeted after research shows 43% of food and drinks strategically placed by checkout are sweet. Discounts for fatty foods and high sugar will not be recommended for discounts on fruit and vegetables.
Some campaigners have suggested that the government should also re-formulate highly calorie products. Johnson has long been skeptical of the sugar tax, choosing soft drink levies as a “sin tax” during his leadership campaign. Under Theresa May, Hancock has drawn up a plan for a “milkshake tax” that targets surgical milk drinks aimed primarily at children.
Katharine Jenner, campaign director at Action on Sugar called it “a missed opportunity that the mandatory target for reformulation is to eliminate unnecessary calories, sugar and salt from products that have been removed from Boris. [Johnson]Announcement along with proper enforcement. Also, it doesn’t make sense that a very successful soft drink levy has not been extended to unhealthy sugar foods and other drinks. “
Calorie labeling will apply to chains for the most part, as well as cafes or other takeaway with more than 250 employees. Hancock said: “When you shop for your family or go out with friends, it’s only natural that you are given correct information about the food you eat to help people make good decisions.” Hancock described supermarket promotion as “unhelpful influence”.
NHS services will also be expanded to help Britons lose weight, including doctors who are given an incentive to inform patients that they are overweight and prescribe exercise.
Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health Britain, said the plan was ambitious because the need for action was “the clearest ever”.
He said: “The main reason we gain weight is because of what we eat and drink, but being more active is also important. Making healthier choices easier and fairer for everyone, and ensuring that the right support is available to those who need it, is very important in overcoming obesity. “
PHE refers to studies that show that adults typically consume 200-300 extra calories a day above the recommended daily guidelines.
Announcing the strategy, Johnson said: “Losing weight is difficult but with a few small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier. If we all do our part, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves from the corona virus – and eliminate the pressure from the NHS. “
Johnson has promised in his leadership campaign that he will end the “caregiver or rule” state. But the prime minister has suggested his own experience in intensive care with coronavirus has become one of the main reasons for adopting a more interventionist approach to obesity.