Junk Food Advertising - Child Health U-turn
Junk Food Advertising - Child Health U-turn

Thank you for contacting me about the Government’s u-turn on action to address childhood obesity, including proposals to restrict junk food advertising.

I absolutely support measures to tackle childhood obesity, reduce health inequalities and improve the health and wellbeing of all children.

The shocking reality is that England has one of the worst childhood obesity rates in Western Europe. This is especially acute for children in the most deprived backgrounds, with the gap between children rising. 

One in four children in Year 6 and one in seven children in Reception are obese. In 2019/20, there were over one million hospital admissions where obesity was a factor – a 618% rise compared to 2009/10.

Despite legislating to restrict the advertising of HFSS foods – alongside a ban on multibuy deals – the Government has delayed these measures by a year. Ministers said the delay is in response to the global economic situation, as well as giving industry more time to prepare. But public health experts and campaigners have raised concerns that the Government is turning its back on child health.

The need to tackle obesity and to support people in so doing is crucial to the health and wellbeing of individuals and the nation. It is a growing challenge that exacerbates inequalities. But the decision to delay restrictions on junk food advertising risks undermining the obesity strategy. This is on top of a decade of cuts to public health services which has weakened efforts to support people to live healthier lives.

Radically improving children’s health and wellbeing must be a priority. I urge Ministers to take bold action on public health and create healthier food retail environments. We are amid a childhood obesity crisis and we need concerted action to bring obesity levels down.

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