Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock addressed the International Association of National Public Health Institutes on the Government’s plans to promote a system of prevention over cure for the country’s health problems.
The DHSC barely mentioned the role of food and drink manufacturers in promoting healthier lifestyles, instead calling for consumers to educate themselves on eating healthily.
FDF chief operating officer Tim Rycroft said: “The Secretary of State is right to focus on more targeted approaches to tackling health inequalities.
‘Headline chasing policies’
“It is time for Government to invest money behind specific measures that support those people and areas most affected by obesity, instead of pursuing headline-chasing policies that impact all consumers.”
In his speech, Hancock said the Government needed to fulfil its commitments to its obesity strategy and planned to set “ambitious” targets for salt consumption.
“Salt intake has fallen by 11% in under a decade, but if salt intake fell by a third it would prevent 8,000 premature deaths and save the National Health Service over £500m annually,” he said. “So we are working on new solutions to tackle salt and will set out more details by Easter.”
Strain off the NHS
Much of Hancock’s speech and the associated policy was geared towards taking the strain off the NHS, part of which included preventing obesity-related disease before it occurred.
The policy paper also outlined the progress of the soft drinks industry levy, which has led producers to remove more than 45m kg of sugar a year from soft drinks through reformulation.
In England, the revenue from the levy is invested in programmes supporting pupil health and wellbeing. This included doubling the Primary Physical Education and Sport Premium to £320m a year, investing £100m in the healthy pupils capital fund, £26m in breakfast clubs and £22m in an Essential Life Skills programme.