Sugar in the firing line for childhood obesity strategy

By John wood

- Last updated on GMT

PM's concern about child obesity
PM's concern about child obesity

Related tags: Childhood obesity, Nutrition, Obesity

Campaigners are calling for a sugar reduction programme modelled on the successful salt reduction work of the past few years, as part of the strategy to combat childhood obesity which the government is currently working on.

The Department of Health (DH) is leading work on the strategy although some insiders have suggested the prime minister’s office is taking a close interest in the work, with David Cameron viewing tackling childhood obesity as a legacy issue for his time in government.

A DH spokeswoman said: “This government is committed to turning the tide on childhood obesity, and our strategy will be launched later this year.”

Calls for reformulation

Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, said the lobbying group was calling for reformulation of products to cut sugar content.

He said: “We need recognition that it’s not just calories. Simply looking at calories does not get the type of sugar reduction that’s needed.”

The way the government had been involved in reducing salt content in recent years offered an effective model, he said. He added: “We need strong targets and a government agency willing to name and shame.”

Tax and watershed

Clark said the Children’s Food Campaign also backed the call for a tax on sugary drinks, and wanted a 9pm watershed on advertising for high-fat and high-sugar products and much tougher regulation of advertising across all media, including online media.

A Food and Drink Federation spokeswoman pointed to the activity on salt as a reason why the industry did not need further regulation.

She said: “Through voluntary initiatives UK companies have already delivered a world-leading salt reduction programme, lowered calories in their products, including sugars, increased the range of portion sizes and low and zero calorie options, as well as reduced salt, fat and saturated fat.”

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