The public responds to the Childhood Obesity Plan

Children’s Food Campaign asked its individual supporters and e-newsletter subscribers to share their thoughts on the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan. Here is a flavour of those responses.

“What a ‘toothless’ report; pun intended.” (Raymond Corness) 

“Generally poor and with not enough teeth.” (Emma)

“COP - cop out describes it perfectly, unfortunately.” (Cath Graham) 

“It is a failure of the government to take strong action to prevent obesity, and the losers are our children. Very sad.” (Christine Bloomfield) 

The Government’s wrong priorities:

“Government should be looking after its citizens, not pandering to big business. The future health of the citizens should be an important economic factor as well as investment and business is.” (A Wordsworth)

“A weak response to an issue that is and will continue to impact on the health, wellbeing and prosperity of our current and future population. Can only assume that corporate interests are of greater concern to the government than the health of our nation?” (Emily van de Venter)

“What has the government got to be afraid of considering they will have the overwhelming support of the nation if they implement the suggested measures in full?  Are the big corporations putting pressure on them which is the sort of thing that happens in the US?” (John Gaze) 

“I think the response is a total cave in to the powerful lobbying of the food industry and a massive own goal.  The only way to bring about change in a meaningful way is to tackle the vested interests of the industry who will never willingly make any significant changes.”  (Beverley Desborough)

The cost to taxpayers:

“1 out of 10. What a disappointment. Are these people so short-sighted? This is going to cost the government a huge amount of money in the future by having to deal with the health issues associated with obesity.” (Caron Matthews)

“I’m absolutely disgusted at the government’s watered down, ineffective plans. The multi £billions spent on treating diabetes, cancers, obesity, tooth decay and ill health, caused by too much sugar consumption, could easily be saved by a more pro-active government plan.” (John Elliott) 

“It’s a watered down fudge to a massive problem in the UK.  The food industry has a huge part to play in the problem. We have tip-toed around the subject of obesity for far too long, afraid that we may offend people, but when the cost to our NHS is £5.1bn then obesity has to become as unacceptable as smoking has become. Unless this happens, then nothing will change.” (Anne Jordan) 

“It took ages for government to tackle the powerful tobacco companies - the tipping point being when the cost to the NHS exceeded the revenue from tax. Surely, that argument is even stronger now, let alone the awful effect of obesity on young (and older) people and the consequent disruption to their lives.” (Alan Gilchrist)

Failure to tackle junk food marketing or promotions:

“I am very angry about the quantity of junk being pushed at my children all the time. My children are not overweight but I am worried about their dental health because of all the sugar.  Everywhere children go they are being tempted, even at sports centres.”  (clairedvs)

“I’m very disappointed with this plan. Again kicking difficult decisions into the long grass, whilst our children are bombarded with adverts which make them overweight, blighting their lives. (Joyce Pountain)

“That there is nothing to curb the utterly immoral packaging of sugar-loaded products, nor the marketing and advertising of sugar-loaded products is simply disgraceful.” (Robin Restall) 

The government’s childhood obesity plan is grossly inadequate, failing to restrain intensive marketing of unhealthy foods, to which children are highly susceptible and which feeds into “pester power”.  (John Boddy) 

“The so-called ‘nanny state’ is a necessary counter-balance to the immense brain-washing power of the advertising industry.” (Ron Marks) 

Criticism of voluntary approach:

“Hoping that it can be done on a voluntary basis is criminal. Legislation is needed or the food and drinks industry will run rings round it. Why should turkeys vote for Christmas? We are letting our children down by allowing this approach.” (Katie Garlick) 

“There should be no voluntary aspect as far as manufacturers are concerned. If we care about our children and the NHS, all measures should be mandatory.” (Margaret Marshall)

“All the voluntary proposals should be made compulsory. I see the consequences of the food industry's self-regulation in the overweight bodies and black and missing teeth of too many of the children I teach. Ad campaigns that create ingrained cultural preferences (e.g. fizzy drinks over water, sweets as reward/comfort food) which kids and parents won't change just because we say so; because we are less "cool" than the products. It has got to be tackled at source.” (Paul Atkin)

“There is no point in relying on voluntary agreements. Big business just carries on the same. We must have strong legislation soon with big fines for non-compliance." (Sylvia Anne Wood)

Support for a sugary drinks tax:

“I am happy about the sugar levy on drinks. I think we should also promote the reduction in plastic packaging that a reduction in drinks bottles and sweet packaging would produce.” (Ann Moorby) 

“What concerns me is the complete lack of awareness of hidden sugar because people don't read labels.  Along with transparent easy to understand graphic and visual labelling we need legislation to ensure sugar isn't used as a cheap filler, ie a sugar tax.” (Penny) 

“Sugar tax is go – good – but so much else could have been done. Nothing on reducing advertising junk and sugar rich foods – or a commitment to telling the truth in ads." (Sue Queenborough)

Missing solutions:

“Making fruit, vegetables and basic food cheaper, while taxing fizzy drinks, take aways, convenience food and cheap food outlets to make them considerably more expensive and therefore not an easy cheap option might be a solution.” (A Wordsworth) 

“For all the education you can provide, if a parent/family cannot afford proper food then they will buy the cheaper, less healthier option. The government need to have more control over the foods produced and how they are sold and they need to help these families with better, affordable housing and better, affordable food.”  (Shona MacPhail) 

“There is too much blame on individuals and families. Stronger restrictions around the marketing of inappropriate foods at children and families would create a better environment in which people could make healthier choices. We are in an ongoing battle at grass roots level.” (Anna Scott)

“At a local level, there should be incentives for fast food retailers to sell healthy foods as a given rather than an option. Taxes on sugar should be used to subsidise fresh fruit and vegetables.” (Glenys Russell)

“I think there should be a fully-fledged sugar tax on drinks, sweets, chocolates and biscuits. Also on all forms of crisps which are frequently included automatically in lunch boxes.   These are all treats/luxury food.The message should be that like alcohol and cigarettes they are not for daily consumption.” (Rosanne Bostock)

Final word:

“We are poisoning not only children, but adults as well. The government needs to direct its attention to those who are producing the foods with sugar and salt in them. I vote with my purchases, but others do not even realize how badly we are being sugared and salted. Time for people to be more outspoken.” (Jackieanne Oliver)

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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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