Rome wasn’t built in a day but this is a good foundation! – Baroness Floella Benjamin responds to the new obesity strategy

Baroness Benjamin, Vice-Chair of the APPG, has welcomed the Government’s new Obesity Strategy, renews the call for a Cabinet-level Minister to drive the strategy forward and asks for more measures specifically designed to combat childhood obesity.

Since the 2014 report: Healthy Patterns for Healthy Families,the APPG on a Fit and Healthy Childhood has addressed the scourge of obesity in many subsequent reports. They can all be accessed here.

The Government measures below were recommended in our reports and publicised by the national media, academic and other journals, online sources and in the Houses of Parliament, including a Westminster Hall debate in March this year led by APPG Chair Steve McCabe MP:

  • Banning advertising of food high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) on TV and online before the 9pm watershed
  • Ending ‘BOGOF’ (buy one get one free) store promotions for unhealthy food
  • Banning HFSS food promotion at checkouts and in prominent store locations
  • Shops encouraged to offer discounts on fruit, vegetables and other ‘healthy’ foods
  • Restaurants, cafes and takeaways legally required to add calorie content to foods sold
  • Consultation on alcohol calorie labelling
  • Consultation on present traffic light food labelling system. Are there more effective alternatives?
  • NHS services to include more concentration on weight loss initiatives; GPs incentivised to support patient efforts to combat obesity

Baroness Benjamin said:

It is important that we applaud the inclusion of measures that we have ourselves recommended as significant steps forward and a symbol of Government resolve.

We now want the Government to strengthen the proposals to recognise that the obesity problem begins in childhood.

A more comprehensive strategy would also include our recommendations on physical activity and play (read our reports).

We recognise that the new measures represent a good start. The APPG on A Fit and Healthy Childhood will continue to be a critical friend to all policymakers who genuinely intend to deliver policies and action to reverse the powerful trend towards ever-increasing overweight and obesity.

This is no easy task and we call again for a Cabinet-level Minister dedicated to turning words into effective action.

Baroness Floella Benjamin of Beckenham, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood