Advertisement

UK plan to cut child obesity lacks muscle, critics say

Click to play video 'Stollery Children’s Hospital: Weight management for young children to prevent obesity' Stollery Children’s Hospital: Weight management for young children to prevent obesity
Each month Global News Morning takes a closer look at some of their incredible stories and work the Stollery Children's Hospital does. This month Dr. Geoff Bell talks about weight management for young children, which is important in preventing obesity.

LONDON – Britain unveiled a plan Thursday to battle rising child obesity by taxing sodas, urging food manufacturers to cut down on sugar and getting schoolchildren to exercise more.

But health campaigners slammed the government for failing to restrict junk food advertising aimed at children.

The British population is one of the fattest in Western Europe. According to Public Health England, almost 62 per cent of adults and 31 per cent of children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese.

The government wants manufacturers to cut the amount of sugar in cereals, yoghurts, candy, breads and desserts by 20 per cent by 2020. The target is voluntary, but the government said it will consider “alternative levers” if it isn’t met.

READ MORE: Childhood obesity rates fall in Canada for the first time in years, study suggests

Primary schools are being asked to help pupils get at least 60 minutes of exercise a day — 30 minutes in gym class or active play, and 30 minutes outside school.

Story continues below advertisement

The government has already announced a “sugar tax” on sodas to start in 2018, with the money going to school sports and healthy school breakfasts.

Parveen Kumar, chairwoman of the British Medical Association board of science, said it’s “incredibly disappointing” that the plan doesn’t include restrictions on marketing of unhealthy food and drinks aimed at children.

READ MORE: Why your child’s weight in grade 5 could predict future obesity risk

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, a longtime campaigner against obesity, said the plan “contains a few nice ideas, but so much is missing.”

He said “too much of it is voluntary, suggestive … Where are the actions on the irresponsible advertising targeted at our children, and the restrictions on junk food promotions?”