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Children's Food Campaign slams Department of Health Obesity 'Call To Action'

The Children's Food Campaign has today criticised the Department of Health's 'call to action' on obesity as an inadequate response to the continuing obesity crisis.


• Focus on calorie reduction welcome, but incompatible with food industry commercial interests
• No specific information about how the 5 billion-a-day calorie reduction 'ambition' will be achieved
• Government support for Change4Life cut from £25 to £14m a year [3]. Trusted Change4Life brand handed to food industry [4]

Reacting to the Department of Health's 'call to action on obesity' published today, Charlie Powell, Campaigns Director of the Children's Food Campaign said:

"This is a deeply disappointing and utterly inadequate response which represents a squandered opportunity to address the UK's obesity crisis.

We've been given a woolly 'call to action' with no detail about how the calorie reduction 'ambition' will be achieved. High in rhetoric and lacking in substance, it is nothing less than an abdication of the government's responsibility to protect public health.

We are witnessing breathtaking procrastination from a complacent government more intent on cosying up to industry than providing a robust regulatory response to reverse the record levels of obesity which place the UK as the fattest nation in Europe [5].

Yes, it is about changing the environment so that people can make healthier choices, but the food industry has a strong influence on people's food choices with its powerful marketing strategies.

The Government is letting food companies write public health policy through its Responsibility Deal programme [6] and take over its Change4Life anti-obesity campaign. Instead it must live up to its responsibilities, for example by introducing effective regulations to protect children from junk food advertising and marketing. 

If the Government does not replace the failed voluntary approach, childhood obesity will sadly continue to rise."

ENDS

For further information and interviews, please contact Christine Haigh or Charlie Powell on 0203 5596 777 or 07817 746786 (Charlie) / 07870 577934 (Christine) or Christine@sustainweb.org / Charlie@sustainweb.org 

 

Notes to editors 

1) The Children's Food Campaign wants to improve children's health and well-being through better food - and food teaching - in schools, and protecting children from junk food marketing. We are supported by over 150 national organisations. The Children's Food Campaign is coordinated by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming and funded by the British Heart Foundation. For more information, see www.childrensfood.org.uk 

 2) The Department of Health's press release is available at http://mediacentre.dh.gov.uk/2011/10/13/government-calls-time-on-obesity/. The full 'Call to Action' can be accessed at http://www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/documents/digitalasset/dh_130487.pdf.

3) When it was launched, the budget for the Change4Life was £75m over three years, or £25m a year (source: http://www.nhs.uk/change4life/pages/partner-frequently-asked-questions.aspx#question15). The indicative budget for Change4Life marketing in 2011/12 will be £14m (source: http://www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/documents/digitalasset/dh_130488.pdf).

4) In October 2010, the Children's Food Campaign exposed how food giant Nestlé was undermining the Change4Life brand by using the Change4Life logo on a promotion for confectionery and sugary cereals. For more information, see https://www.sustainweb.org/news/october10_nestle_breach_change4life/.

5) The UK is now the fattest nation in Europe. For more information, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11983915

6) Last month, the Children's Food Campaign published analysis criticising food company pledges under the Responsibility Deal as underwhelming, concluding that the Government's voluntary approach is likely to fail. For more information, see https://www.sustainweb.org/news/sep11_2011_responsibility_deal/.

 

Published 13 Oct 2011

Children's Food Campaign: Better food and food teaching for children in schools, and protection of children from junk food marketing are the aims of Sustain's high-profile Children's Food Campaign. We also want clear food labelling that can be understood by everyone, including children.

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