Ban food on public transport to tackle child obesity, says report

The report also called to extend the sugar tax

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Eating on public transport should be banned and the sugar tax extended if the government wants to meet its target to halve childhood obesity, according to England’s chief medical officer.

Outgoing Professor Dame Sally Davies called for stronger actions from ministers to stop children being “dazzled by companies” in her final report in the role.

She said children are “drowning in a flood of unhealthy food and drink options” and suggested combatting the problem by extending the tax on sugary drinks to milk drinks containing added sugar, like milkshakes, and introducing plain packaging on unhealthy food.

Among her other recommendations were banning eating and drinking on public transport to stop children snacking and ensuring all publicly-funded sporting venues and events only sell low-calorie products.

She would also have the government phase out all marketing, advertising and sponsorship of less healthy food and drink products across all media and impose a calorie cap on servings at food outlets.

Her report is at odds with Boris Johnson, who has made clear his concerns over “sin taxes” such as the sugar tax, and what he sees as “the continuing creep of the nanny state”.

But Dame Sally said: “The government ambition is to halve childhood obesity by 2030 - in England, we are nowhere near achieving this.

“Yet, if we are bold, we can achieve this goal.”

According to the report, around 1.2 million children are now clinically obese, with some suffering Type 2 diabetes, asthma and musculoskeletal pain, as well as mental health problems.

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