Opposition leaders join forces to urge ministers to back junk food crackdown

Posted On: 
25th April 2018

The leaders of the opposition parties have come together to urge ministers to back new plans to tackle unhealthy eating.

Buy-one-get-one-free deals on junk food account for 40% of food purchased, according to new figures
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In a joint letter - organised by TV chef and healthy eating activist Jamie Oliver - opposition leaders Jeremy Corbyn, Vince Cable and Nicola Sturgeon called on the Government to take “bold action” to tackle the UK's obesity epidemic, warning that a failure to do so would result in the current generation living shorter and less healthy lives than their parents.

Buy-one-get-one-free deals on junk food could be banned under the drive, while ministers are also being urged to consider strict new rules for junk food advertisers – including a 9pm watershed on fast food ads – and a ban on the use of celebrities and cartoon characters to flog the unhealthy snacks.

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“We don’t agree on everything, but we do agree on this: If we don’t act now, the current generation of young children could well live shorter lives than their parents,” the party leaders write.

“We are writing to urge you to take bold action to tackle one of the greatest health challenges of our time. A crisis which is putting immense pressure on the NHS as it approaches its 70th birthday.”

A government source told The Times that many of the proposals were already part of ministers' own obesity strategy which could be announced before the end of June. The plans would be a U-turn on the Prime Minister’s decision to ditch much of David Cameron’s healthy eating strategy when she took office.

The joint push from the opposition leaders comes after new figures showed that the UK has the worst obesity rate in Western Europe with one in three UK children deemed obese by the time they leave school.

But Tim Rycroft of the Food and Drink Federation warned that it was “much too early” for the Government to impose more “headline-chasing” regulation on the sector when it is already trying to make food healthier.

He said: “It is time for government to resist calls for headline-chasing measures that affect all consumers and instead to invest money behind specific, targeted measures for those people and areas most affected by obesity.”