Labour accuses ministers of 'snail's pace' progress on tackling child obesity

Posted On: 
25th June 2019

Labour has hit out at ministers for moving at a "snail's pace" in their bid to tackle childhood obesity.

The UK has one of the worst childhood obesity rates in Western Europe

Shadow Public Health Minister Sharon Hodgson branded the Childhood Obesity Strategy "window dressing" after a damning Labour analysis found that two-thirds of the plan's key deadlines had been missed.

The strategy, aimed at halving childhood obesity by 2030, had pledged to hold consultations on six new proposals by the end of last year, but had only taken evidence on energy drink sales and calorie labelling by the December deadline.

Junk food advertising could be banned before 9pm in bid to tackle childhood obesity

Ministers set to stop kids buying energy drinks as part of major childhood obesity clampdown

MPs: Ban junk food ads before 9pm to crack down on childhood obesity

The UK has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in Western Europe, with children from disadvantaged backgrounds disproportionately impacted.

A further consultation on price promotions closed this month, while evidence gathering on food advertising will run until August.

All three completed consultations remain in an "analysing feedback" stage with ministers failing to announce any new legislation as a result of the evidence.

Ms Hodgson said Health Secretary Matt Hancock had struggled to get a grip on rising obesity rates among children because he was "distracted" by Brexit and the Tory leadership contest.

"While the Health Secretary has been distracted by the leadership contest and his government's botched Brexit negotiations, it is our children who suffer because of the Conservative's snail pace progress on tackling childhood obesity," she said.

"It does not take seven months to analyse the feedback from a consultation and announce a policy; especially when it is a policy that campaigners and Labour have been calling for and have evidence to back up.

"One year on since the plan was published, the government's so-called commitment to childhood obesity remains mere window dressing. So it is no surprise that childhood obesity is still at a record high."

Labour has vowed to halve child obesity within a decade by restricting the sale of energy drinks to under 16s and implementing a 9pm watershed on advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

The party have also promised councils will be given extra cash to increase funding for public health programs.

Ms Hodgson added: "There is no silver bullet to childhood obesity, but the overnment isn't taking any serious action to tackle the crisis this country faces.

"That is why I am calling on the government to urgently implement policies that could help address teh childhood obesity crisis. Our children cannot wait any longer."

The Department of Health and Social Care have been approached for comment.