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Health Select Committee calls for a “brave and bold” action plan on child obesity

The Commons’ Health Select Committee has published a report on childhood obesity supporting a 20% tax on added sugar, amongst other measures.

The Commons’ Health Select Committee has published a report on childhood obesity supporting a 20% tax on added sugar, amongst other measures. The recommendations in the report, titled Childhood Obesity – Brave and Bold Action, have a strong focus on changing the food environment and reflect recent evidence from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition that children are consuming three times the recommended maximum intake of dietary sugar.

The report makes the following recommendations:

  • Strong controls on price promotions of unhealthy food and drink.
  • Tougher controls on marketing and advertising of unhealthy food and drink.
  • A centrally led reformulation programme to reduce sugar in food and drink.
  • A sugary drinks tax on full sugar soft drinks, in order to help change behaviour, with all proceeds targeted to help those children at greatest risk of obesity.
  • Labelling of single portions of products with added sugar to show sugar content in teaspoons.
  • Improved education and information about diet.
  • Universal school food standards.
  • Greater powers for local authorities to tackle the environment leading to obesity.
  • Early intervention to offer help to families of children affected by obesity and further research into the most effective interventions.

The report comes just a month after a review from Public Health England, which also backed such measures.

Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes and a former GP, who leads the Committee said: “We believe that if the government fails to act, the problem will become far worse. A full package of measures is required and should be implemented as soon as possible.”

In response, the Public Health Minister, Jane Ellison, said: “This Government is committed to turning the tide on childhood obesity. That is why we are developing a comprehensive strategy looking at all the factors, including sugar consumption, that contribute to a child becoming overweight and obese. This will be published in the coming months.”

The report can be read in full here.

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