A Department of Health spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk on Friday (February 29) tackling obesity in young people was complicated and the government wanted to ensure that the strategy was fully formed before its publication.
Publication of the strategy was first expected in the autumn of 2015. Its release was subsequently rumoured to be scheduled for December 2015, January 2016 and most recently this month.
It is thought unlikely the strategy will include plans to introduce a sugar tax.
Both food and drink manufacturers' representatives and health campaigners were quick to condemn the government for the series of delays in publishing the report.
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) was “very disappointing” to learn the government’s childhood obesity strategy has been delayed again. “There is an urgent need for co-ordinated action to tackle this issue,” said FDF director general Ian Wright.
“Today’s announcement will also mean several further months’ of uncertainty for the food industry, broadcasters and retailers. Nonetheless our food and drink producers remain ready and willing to work with government, and others, to tackle obesity.”
‘Seems like a complete shambles’
Professor Graham MacGregor, professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, Chair of Action on Sugar complained no-one within government or the Department of Health appreared to know when David Cameron will announce the childhood obesity strategy, which “seems like a complete shambles”.
“David Cameron has called children’s obesity a crisis and yet the Government has failed the next generation by stalling on one of its own health priorities.”
- Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK
Cameron now had all the evidence to make the UK the first country in the world to stop the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemic growing worse, he said.
“To do this, he has to be radical and follow every single action that we have set out in our comprehensive plan which was first presented to [health secretary] Jeremy Hunt two years ago. Otherwise it will be the final nail in an already bankrupt National Health Service.”
Failed the next generation
Cancer Research UK said the government had failed the next generation by stalling on one of its own health priorities. “While the government delays, more children will become obese,” warned the organisation's director of prevention Alison Cox.
“Our survey shows people want the government to act to fight children’s obesity – eight out of 10 think it’s a problem,” she said.
“To help prevent thousands of cancer cases we want a ban on junk food ads during family viewing times, a sugary drinks tax and more sugar taken out of food. The future health of our children depends on strong action right now. Every day counts.”
- Ban on junk food ads during family viewing times
- Sugary drinks tax
- More sugar taken out of food