An Effort to Tackle Child Obesity in the UK

With the threat of childhood obesity looming over the UK, the Labour Party proposes a new child health plan that would ban junk food adverts from TV programs aired before the 9pm watershed. This proposal makes up only part of a future child health bill that will be outlined in Labour’s election manifesto.

Campaigners claim that the ban will decrease children’s viewing of junk food adverts by 82%.

While such adverts are already banned from children’s programs, this more extensive ban would block them from popular programs like The X-Factor, Hollyoaks, and Britain’s Got Talent, which children watch though the shows aren’t specifically marketed toward them.
Party aims
In ten years time, the Labour Party hopes to halve the number of obese children in the UK and thus reduce the £6 billion annual cost of obesity to the National Health Service.

The party would also create a £250 million fund by cutting the amount spent by the NHS on management services annually, which would help provide school nurses and counseling services to English primary and secondary schools.

The future Labour government plans to compare child health care to international standards as part of its “ambition to make Britain’s children the healthiest in the world,”.

An Index of Child Health would compare and evaluate body fat percentage, as well as numerous other health factors, in children; their indicators include obesity, dental health, under-fives, and mental health.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jordan Ashworth observed that many children are obese when they begin school, and that type 2 diabetes in children costs the NHS around £10 billion annually.

“This initiative is good for the children but it is also good for the taxpayer,” Ashworth told BBC.

“We are asking people to think about the impact and asking the advertising industry to recognize by putting their messages into things like Britain’s Got Talent all the time, it is having an effect on children saying they want to eat and drink this stuff.”

At this time, the party would not require food manufacturers to change their salt, fat, and sugar contents, but Ashworth hopes it would encourage a change nonetheless.

Critics
Announced in August, the Conservatives’ childhood obesity plan, which they call “the most ambitious” in the world, is at risk by Labour’s plans. The health select committee and many campaigners complained the Tories’ bill was “weak” and “watered down”. TV chef Jamie Oliver openly criticized the Conservatives for not including an advert ban, which he campaigned to have as part of the Labour plan.
In response, Tory public health spokeswoman Nicola Blackwood defended the plan and expressed economic concerns about the Labour party’s leadership.
“Reducing childhood obesity is vital. That’s why the public health watchdog says that the childhood obesity plan we’ve put in place is the most ambitious in the world, and that’s why we have one of the strictest TV advertising regimes of any country.”
Blackwood went on to claim that these health reform programs “could only be funded by a strong economy which Jeremy Corbyn would risk with his nonsensical economic ideas.”
Meanwhile, the child obesity rate in Britain is expected to reach 30% by the year 2050.
References:

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-39838028

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK299573/

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