Labour made the pledge today (May 8), as part of its plans to halve UK childhood obesity within 10 years.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s time to do something about it [childhood obesity], something big and bold. [That’s] why we’re going to apply the rules, which currently apply to children’s TV, to TV more generally, so that when you’re sat down with your family watching the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, you’re not going to have adverts for junk food.
“There is research that shows children see the adverts for McDonalds [for example], and then they hassle their parents to go to McDonalds.”
Pledged to halve UK childhood obesity
Ashworth also pledged to halve UK childhood obesity within 10 years under a Labour government, and to publish a new childhood obesity strategy within the first 100 days of being in office.
Campaign group Action on Sugar welcomed Labour’s pledge to extend the ban on sugary food adverts, and make Britain’s children “the healthiest in the world”. Currently, sugary food TV adverts are banned where children make up 25% of the audience. This is being extended to all non-broadcast media in July.
Action on Sugar campaign manager Jenny Rosborough told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “These recommendations were originally put forward by Action on Sugar to the government in 2015, which responded in August 2016 with a very disappointing ‘obesity strategy’ – despite calls to release a robust and effective plan.
“Theresa May, who launched her prime minister campaign by saying that she wanted to tackle health inequalities, now has the opportunity to properly tackle childhood obesity and ensure it’s of highest priority in her election manifesto.”
‘Tackle health inequalities’
The pressure group asked the prime minister and Jeremy Hunt on Twitter whether they would commit to the same pledge.
But, the Conservative party said it had the “most ambitious” childhood obesity strategy in the world, which would be put at risk by the Labour party, according to media reports.
Public health minister Nicola Blackwood said: “Reducing childhood obesity is vital. That’s why the public health watchdog says that the childhood obesity plan we’ve put in place is the most ambitious in the world, and why we have one of the strictest TV advertising regimes of any country.
"We spent £3.4bn on public health programmes last year – that can only be funded by a strong economy, which Jeremy Corbyn would risk with his nonsensical economic ideas,” Blackwood told BBC News.
Labour’s health plans to tackle ‘health inequalities’
- Measure progress against international standards against obesity, dental health, under fives, and mental health
- Legally require all government departments to have a child health strategy
- Support school nurses and health visitors to make sure that all children have access to the healthcare
- Set up a £250M annual child health fund to support the strategy
- Ensure extra funding for child and adolescent mental health services
- Ring-fence the public health budget over the course of the parliament