The 70 organisations, which are part of the Obesity Health Alliance, include leaders of health charities, medical organisations and health professionals (including the British Medical Association, British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK.
This letter follows the Government’s recent review of its obesity strategy for England, which is understood to include plans to scrap the sugar levy on soft drinks and other measures to cut preventable illness such as the ban on TV advertising of junk food before 9pm.
Junk food restrictions
This follows a survey carried out by YouGov for Cancer Research UK of more than 2,000 adults, which showed 60% of people support the junk food restrictions being implemented in January 2023 as originally planned.
It also highlighted that the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) has already demonstrated itself as an extremely successful policy that has reduced the amount of sugar in soft drinks by 30%, whilst increasing sales in the market (up 5% in 2021).
Dr David Strain, British Medical Association Board of Science Chair, said:“It’s deeply disappointing to see the new government threaten to throw away the progress we have made tackling obesity without any evidence it would do anything to help alleviate the impact of the cost of living crisis. This sort of short-term thinking threatens not only the government’s target to halve childhood obesity by 2030 but the NHS itself, as obesity-related preventable illnesses mount up in the absence of any discernible strategy to prevent them.
Graham MacGregor, professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, and chairman of Action on Sugar and Action on Salt added: “It would be absolutely scandalous if our new Prime Minister does not fully examine the extensive evidence supporting these policies, especially the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which has not only reduced household sugar consumption but also increased sales and generated revenue to help the more vulnerable.
“Unhealthy diets high in saturated fat, salt and sugar are the biggest cause of death and disability globally. The Government must not kowtow to the food industry, and put the UK's health first"