Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has proposed a series of measures designed to halve childhood obesity in England by 2030.
The measures will be open for the Department of Health and Social Care to consult on at the end of the year, and include banning the sale of sweets and high-calorie snacks at checkouts, shop entrances and in buy-one-get-one-free deals.
New regulations of junk food adverts on TV and online, as well as mandatory calorie labelling on restaurant menus will be part of the consultation.
Ending the sale of energy drinks containing high levels of caffeine to children has also been proposed.
There has been mixed responses to the proposals, but they have received some significant voices of support.
Professor Russell Viner, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the measures would “help all families to make healthy choices and make a real difference in the lives of children and young people”.
However, Action on Sugar chairman Professor Graham MacGregor said the proposals “lack firm commitment and only promises consultations by the end of the year”.
Mr Hunt insisted that the measures were necessary because the cost of obesity was too great to ignore. He said: “Parents are asking for help – we know that over three quarters of parents find offers for sugary sweets and snacks at checkouts annoying. It’s our job to give power to parents to make healthier choices, and to make their life easier in doing so.”
Mr Hunt added that the target of halving childhood obesity in the next 12 years would be 700,000 fewer children being obese by 2030.
One in three children in England are now overweight or obese by the age of 11, and increased rates of type 2 diabetes are being diagnosed among children.
It is therefore reassuring to see the government is tackling this problem and enabling better processes in order for families to live healthier lives, eat healthier foods and being less brazenly presented with high-calorie foods on-the-cheap.
Of course, the proposals still need to be discussed by the Department of Health and it remains to be seen how many of the proposals will be officially introduced and how long rollout times will be before they are implemented.