Key recommendations to curb childhood obesity

Outgoing Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies has made a series of bold recommendations to tackle childhood obesity.

She advises:

– Prohibit eating and drinking on public transport in a bid to curb children snacking. Exceptions include drinking fresh water, breastfeeding and eating and drinking for medical conditions.

– Extend the sugar tax to sweetened milk-based drinks with added sugar.

– Ensure all publicly-funded sporting venues and major sporting events only advertise and sell low calorie, low fat, low salt and/or sugar products.

Sugary drinks
The report called for the sugar tax to be extended to sweetened milk-based products (PA)

– Tax food firms that fail to reduce sugar, fat and salt in their products quickly enough, and consider plain packaging (as for tobacco) for junk food.

– Conduct an urgent review of VAT rates on food and drink, with a possible higher rate of VAT on unhealthy food which could be used to subsidise fruit and vegetables.

– A cap on the maximum calories per serving at food outlets.

– Free drinking water to be made available in take-aways, food shops and restaurants, and more drinking fountains and “water refill” stations in public places, rail and bus stations, parks and shopping centres.

– Consistent labelling on food and drink for the whole out-of-home food and drink sector, including hospitals and leisure centres.

– Phasing out all marketing, advertising and sponsorship of less healthy food and drink products across all mediums, including online, at any major public venue or public-funded event and on any public-sector-owned advertising site.

Fast food menu
The out-of-home food and drink sector should use consistent labelling, according to the report (PA)

– Work with suppliers, cash and carry businesses and packaging companies to introduce smaller portion-sized packaging for fast food.

– Curb speed limits near schools and homes and encourage more children to walk, scoot or cycle.

– Introduce car-free zones around schools to improve air quality and encourage exercise.

– Stronger regulation of marketing of follow-on formula milk and better promotion of breastfeeding, which is known to help reduce the risk of obesity.

– Introduce mandatory standards for the nutritional content of foods for children aged under two.

– All nurseries, registered childminders and schools to adopt water and milk-only policies.

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