RSPH has responded to the publication of the Government’s long-awaited Childhood Obesity Strategy, which has now been downgraded to a plan.
RSPH has welcomed a number of elements of the plan, including the introduction of a sugar levy, a target for primary school children to undertake an hour of physical activity each day, and a pledge to introduce clearer food labelling.
However, RSPH believes the plan risks being undermined as many of the key planks which an effective and comprehensive strategy would contain are absent; most notably measures to tackle junk food advertising and marketing, and the failure to introduce mandatory targets to cut sugar content in food products.
Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said: “If we are to stand any chance of reversing the shocking rates of childhood obesity, it will require hard hitting action on many fronts. It is of course welcome to see further investment in school sport and that Ofsted inspections will now take into account how schools support their pupil’s health.
"However, it does feel like several pages of the plan are missing; there is a glaring omission around any measures to tackle the aggressive marketing of junk food – on TV, online, and through sponsorship and price promotions. Such marketing and promotion was identified as a critical area for action by Public Health England in its sugar reduction report last year. It is therefore extremely disappointing that these evidence-based recommendations have been dismissed.
"While the plan also contains the laudable aim of cutting sugar levels by 20% in foods, unless these are more than just voluntary targets, experience tells us that progress is likely to be slow and limited at best. The health and wellbeing of today’s children and tomorrow’s adults deserves a serious and comprehensive strategy if we are to stand any chance of success.”