UK’s Labour vows tougher rules on junk food, sweets ads

08 May 2017


Ahead of the UK general election next month, the Labour party has vowed that ads for junk food and sweets would be banned from all TV shows broadcast before the 9 pm 'watershed' under plans to tackle childhood obesity.

The party says the proposal forms part of a future child health bill that will be outlined in its election manifesto.

Products high in fat, salt or sugar are currently banned from being advertised in children's TV only.

The Tories countered by saying they had the world's "most ambitious" child obesity plan that would be put at risk by Labour.

According to Labour, introducing a ban on pre-watershed junk food promotions would reduce children's viewing of such adverts by 82 per cent.

It says the move would affect programmes including The X Factor, Hollyoaks and Britain's Got Talent, shows campaigners say are popular with children but not specifically aimed at them.

Labour says its strategy on child health aims to halve the number of overweight youngsters within 10 years in an effort to curb the £6 billion annual cost of obesity to the National Health Service.

The party said a £250-million fund would be created by halving the amount the NHS spends on management consultants each year. It would be used for investment in school nurses and counselling services in primary and secondary schools in England.

A future Labour government would also measure progress in child health against international standards as part of an "ambition to make Britain's children the healthiest in the world", the party said.

Labour's shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said some children were already obese when they started school, while type 2 diabetes was costing the NHS about £10 billion a year.

"This initiative is good for children but it is also good for the taxpayer," he said on a BBC programme.

He said he was not calling for cereals such as Coco Pops to be banned or for parents to stop going to McDonalds, saying he happily took his own children there "once in a while".

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

Tories' counter
The Conservatives' childhood obesity plan announced last August set out the action local communities, the food industry, schools and the NHS should be taking over the next 10 years.

It was criticised by health experts, the health select committee and campaigners for being "weak" and "watered down".

But Tory public health spokesman Nicola Blackwood said, "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 why we have one of the strictest TV advertising regimes of any country.

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