Local authority leaders have urged the Government to give them the powers to ban junk food advertising as part of the struggle against childhood obesity.
More than 22,000 children aged 10 and 11 in Year 6 are classed as severely obese and childhood obesity is costing the NHS more than £5bn a year.
The Local Government Association (LGA) describes this as a ‘child obesity epidemic.’
An All-Party Parliamentary Group report on food and drink marketing published this month recommended, among other measures, that there should be a ban on the use of child-friendly characters to advertise junk food.
The former health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced in June a plan to halve childhood obesity by 2030, which included the promise of a consultation on introducing new TV and online advertising restrictions.
Responding to the APPG report, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: ‘The Government’s childhood obesity strategy included positive measures to tackle this crisis, but we urge it to go further by giving councils powers to ban junk food advertising – including on telephone boxes — near schools, nurseries and children’s centres and providing specialised support for obese and severely obese children.
‘Limiting children’s exposure to an onslaught of adverts for unhealthy food, in conjunction with other initiatives, will help improve children’s health and reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer in later life.’