Britain is to mull banning the sale of high-energy caffeine-laden drinks to young children after a study found a quarter of 6 to 9 year olds consumed them. At the same time, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt also plans to tackle pester-power by preventing stores from displaying unhealthy foods at checkouts or including them in buy-one-get-one-free deals, officials said on Sunday, Xinhua reported. The new measures are aimed at helping halve childhood obesity by 2030. The Department of Health and Social Care is also going to consult on introducing clear, consistent calorie labelling on menus in restaurants, cafes and takeaways, so parents can make an informed choice about what their families are eating.
The government has called on industry to recognise the harm that adverts for foods high in fat, sugar and salt can cause. It will consult on introducing new TV and online advertising restrictions to prevent children from being targeted by unhealthy products, and to incentivise companies to reduce the sugar and calories in the products they sell.
New measures could include extending the current advertising watershed and considering limiting the number of unhealthy food adverts shown during children’s programs. The second chapter of a national obesity plan will promote a new national ambition for every primary school to adopt a daily “active mile” initiative.
Hunt said: “The cost of obesity, both on individual lives and our NHS, is too great to ignore. Today we are taking steps to ensure that by 2030, children from all backgrounds have the help they need for a healthier, more active start in life.”
Public Health Minister Steve Brine said: “One in three children are now overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school. Dangerous overconsumption, combined with reduced activity, is having a catastrophic effect on our children’s health, limiting their potential and putting them at risk of a shorter life.”
“We all have a responsibility to act before we lose a generation of young people to this entirely avoidable epidemic. We can’t afford to waste time, which is why we’re committing to halve obesity in the next 12 years with bold new action.”