Laura Sharman 18 August 2016

Councils 'disappointed' with childhood obesity strategy

Council leaders have voiced their disappointment at the government’s long-awaited obesity strategy, saying the reforms do not go far enough to tackle childhood obesity.

The Government has published its strategy, which includes the new Soft Drinks Industry Levy - known as the ‘sugar tax’. The levy will apply to all drinks with an added sugar content of around 5% with the money raised being used to fund school sport programmes.

However, local government leaders and other healthcare professionals have criticised the strategy for failing to include curbs on advertising junk food to children.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said its recommendations to give councils the power to ban junk food advertising near schools and require calorie counts on menus in chain restaurants haven’t been taken forward.

The LGA’s portfolio holder for community wellbeing, cllr Izzi Seccombe, said: ‘It is disappointing that a number of these key asks have not been included in the plan and we will continue to press government for them to be introduced.

‘Councils are doing everything they can to curb obesity at a local level and will have spent more than half a billion pounds tackling obesity since they took over responsibility for public health three years ago. The recent cuts to public health budgets by government will make this task harder.’ The LGA is calling for the levy raised on soft drinks to go to council public health teams to help tackle childhood obesity.

Former health minister and health spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, Norman Lamb, also criticised the strategy: ‘By caving in to the junk food lobby, the Government is letting down consumers and storing up serious problems for our already over-stretched NHS in years to come,’ he said.

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