APPG on a Fit and Healthy Childhood tells Government to Crackdown on Child Obesity by Statutory Regulation of Marketing
The APPG on A Fit and Healthy Childhood has called upon the Government to ditch its time-honoured ‘voluntary approach’ to food and drink marketing in the interests of children’s health.
Introducing the APPG’s 11th report, Chair Jim Fitzpatrick MP said:
‘Despite best intentions, the voluntary agreement approach adopted by successive Governments has failed to protect children from the aggressive marketing of foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) that we know can have such a devastating effect on their present and future health outlook. The Responsibility Deal was observed by a virtuous minority of companies but ignored by the rest. It’s now time for the Government to take a child-centred approach to regulation, rather than relying on ‘best intentions’ that tend to evaporate when profit is at stake. All children will benefit from universal measures to make them happier and healthier.’
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has highlighted the adverse impact of aggressive HFSS food marketing on children’s eating and drinking habits. Public Health England’s preferred strategy is to ‘nudge’ families into taking healthier choices via initiatives such as the Sugar Smart and Be Food Smart apps, but many corporate companies have continued to target children ruthlessly. Amongst other measures, the APPG on A Fit and Healthy Childhood urges the Government to:
- Ban the use of child-friendly characters to advertise junk food
- Extend existing regulation to restrict HFSS TV advertising until after the 9pm watershed
- Review and amend regulatory systems currently in place for online content, starting by extending existing policies regulating food marketing to children to online material
- Require that rogue adverts be reported to the ASA and sponsorships fully declared
- Introduce tougher restriction on the marketing and advertising of unhealthy food and commit extra resources to ways in which to target ‘hard to reach’ groups with healthy lifestyle initiatives
- Restore the £600 million cuts to councils’ public health funding and provide additional resources to support children and young people who are most seriously obese
- Fully adopt the UNICEF-advocated ‘child rights’ approach to marketing and this to underpin relevant legislative strategy
Lead author, Helen Clark added:
‘These measures and others should nor be seen as Government wielding ‘the big stick’ but instead the encouragement of a ‘fair food’ environment via a balanced but firm approach that does not snuff out manufacturers’ innovation or drive excess consumption but makes healthy choices both sensible and convenient.
‘If the Government really cares about the health and fitness of our children, this report should be welcomed. It’s time now to be proactive – simply ‘working with industry’ on marketing doesn’t work!
Actions must be mandatory to benefit all the UK’s children and industry should be given no room to evade beneficial action, ‘get around it’ or, as too many companies are doing today, simply ignore it. It’s time for those who make policy to stand up and be counted in the children’s corner!’
For further information contact Helen Clark: 07504 460315