Growing bigger

Well, Professor Dame Sally Davies didn’t hold back.

Time to Solve Childhood Obesity, the report she produced in her role as the previous chief medical officer for England, spells out the challenge facing the UK.

The report cites multiple causes for the rise in obesity among England’s 10-11-year-olds since 1990. An old-school solution of physical activity alone won’t solve obesity, we’re told; rather a mix of prevention, with the government doing more to influence eating habits and determine the opportunities for them to be active.

Impressing on us that ‘our children have the right to live in a healthy environment’ means food brands will have to help meet a reduction target set for 2030. How far this extends into the production of certain foods and portion size is open to debate.

Dame Sally Davies outlines ten key principles that must underlie further actions to meet this goal.

Greater regulation of the food industry is one. It appears voluntary responsibility isn’t enough to deliver meaningful change. Penalties in the form of the levy on the soft drinks industry is seen as a success.

Intervention is the word in play now. Why? For one thing, obesity costs economically.

I can’t disagree with the overall thrust of the report. But the Food and Drink Federation has a point. Punitive action could hit the gains made already.

Industry will need to see the obesity problem as an opportunity – taking on a responsibility agenda and combining it with marketing, education and embracing food technology’s role.

If food companies don’t take notable action they’ll be marshalled into doing so.

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