The World Health Organisation (WHO) has criticised the UK government for relying on companies to regulate the health of the meals they serve.
The criticism is detailed in a report from the WHO, put together by Queens University Belfast and the University of Texas.
In 2010, the UK introduced a number of ‘responsibility deals’ in which fast food companies, such as McDonalds, KFC and Mars would be responsible for helping to improve public health, even allowing these companies to influence health policies.
One of the authors of the WHO report, Professor de Vogli, states: “Big corporations have a mission to maximise profit. If we hope and expect that profit-driven businesses will safeguard public health, it is pure illusion.”
Out of 25 countries sampled in the report, the UK comes within the top 5 countries with the highest BMI and rates of obesity. A high BMI is one of the main risk factors for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and a range of other long term health conditions.
In addition to blasting the UK’s approach to self-regulation of fast food companies, the WHO makes a series of recommendations which include subsidies for fruit and vegetable growers, disincentives for ultra-processed fast food and penalties for overuse of fertilisers, pesticides and antibiotics.
The World Health Organisation also proposes tighter regulation on fast food advertising, particularly in terms of adverts that are aimed at children.

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