Jamie has this week presented the Government with his own recommendations to combat the rising levels of childhood obesity in the UK. Read the six main points to his strategy here.
1) THE CHILDREN’S HEALTH LEVY
We are suggesting a 20p levy per litre on all sugary soft drinks as these are the largest single source of sugar consumption for school-age children and teenagers. Crucially, the money raised would be ring-fenced to go towards food education programmes and initiatives to help prevent diet-related disease. Far from being a “tax on the poor”, this aims to improve health by encouraging people to drink water or no-sugar drinks, which are cheaper (or free).
This is the gradual process of reducing the sugar in foods and drinks over time so that people don’t notice the change because their taste buds slowly adapt to the new recipes. This has happened successfully with salt over the past few years. We are suggesting the compulsory reformulation of high-sugar products, overseen by a new COBRA-style committee within parliament.
The labelling of food needs to be much clearer and standardised so that people know exactly what to look for on pack. Traffic light labelling is one of the simplest ways to show people what products actually contain and should be made mandatory.
4) THE SCHOOL FOOD PLAN
Food education in schools must remain a priority but furthermore, the 17 actions of the School Food Plan need to be fully supported by government and we should also bring in food standards for packed lunches as, currently, only 1% of lunches brought in from home would meet the minimum nutritional standards set for cooked school lunches.
A ban on the advertising and marketing of unhealthy foods to children, and responsible in-store marketing of high-fat, -salt and -sugar products should be introduced. In addition, supermarkets should be incentivised to work more closely with organisations that can get nutritious fresh food to lower-income families.
6) NATIONAL CHILD MEASUREMENT PROGRAMME
This existing programme should be extended so that the earliest signs of obesity can be spotted and preventative measures put in place, sensitively and with the full support of school leaders.
To read Jamie’s full strategy, download it here.