South West Bedfordshire MP pledges support for tackling childhood obesity

Andrew Selous MP commits to prioritise tackling obesity at Obesity Health Alliance event

South West Bedfordshire MP, Andrew Selous has committed to protect the health of local children by pledging to work with Government to push for policies that will reduce childhood obesity.

Sponsoring an event hosted by the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) in Westminster, Andrew, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Obesity, committed to make tackling obesity a personal political priority, telling his constituents: “High levels of obesity is the biggest public health threat in the UK today – and we have to do everything possible to help children be a healthy weight, otherwise they are at risk of carrying a whole range of health problems into adult life.”

The event was organised to celebrate to implantation of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy – commonly known as the ‘sugar tax’ – which came into force earlier this month.

The Government is also expected to publish an update to its Childhood Obesity Plan in the coming months, with campaigners hoping for tougher measures particularly around junk food advertising.

Caroline Cerny, Obesity Health Alliance Lead, said:

“It’s fantastic to see politicians recognising the scale of the obesity problem and committing to putting pressure on Government to be bolder in its policies to help everyone make healthier choices. The Soft Drinks Industry Levy is a significant step in the right direction – but we also need to see tougher measures on areas such as junk food advertising.  Currently, millions of children see adverts for junk food during family time shows which fall outside current regulations.  This loophole needs to be closed. We also want to see more done to improve the environment which makes unhealthy food too readily available at cheap prices.”

The OHA’s top three policy priorities for tackling obesity are:

  • Current advertising rules are failing to protect our children. Children deserve to be protected from exposure to adverts for HFSS foods and drinks that we know can influence their food preferences, choices, and intake. The Government should close existing loopholes to restrict children’s exposure to junk food marketing across all the media they are exposed to. The rules currently only apply to 26% of children’s viewing time and still allow adverts for food and drink high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) to be shown during ‘family viewing time’ between 6-9 pm when the number of children watching TV is at its highest.
  • The Government should fully implement and evaluate the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL). The impact of the levy should be monitored and evaluated annually with revenue raised reinvested in improving public health across the UK.
  • The Government should take action to reduce sugar, saturated fat and salt as well as overall calories from everyday foods. Public Health England’s sugar reduction programme should be extended to include salt, saturated fat and overall calories.