Brits WANT controversial soft drink levy widened, poll reveals
Eight out of ten adults support a ban on advertising unhealthy food to children on TV and online, new research for the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) suggests.
The coalition of charities and health organisations says the polling shows the public backs its demands for new taxes on junk food and greater curbs on advertising.
In December, the Government announced that it was delaying a ban on junk food advertising before 9pm, to the dismay of health and obesity campaigners.
The new survey of more than 2,000 people found 79 per cent support a TV ban of unhealthy food to children while 81 per cent said the same about online.
The poll also found 68 per cent would support food firms being taxed for unhealthy foods if the money was spent on children’s health programmes.
80 per cent of adults said they support a ban on advertising unhealthy food to children on TV and online, according to a new poll
Similarly, 79 per cent think the Government should be doing more to make sure healthy food is affordable during the cost-of-living crisis, while 77 per cent think the cash raised by the current sugar tax on soft drinks should be used directly to fund programmes aimed at improving children’s health.
The alliance includes the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Association of Directors of Public Health, Diabetes UK, Cancer Research UK, the British Medical Association and the Faculty of Public Health.
It said it is ‘deeply concerned’ that unless bold action is taken, health inequalities across the UK will continue to grow and obesity will ‘pile’ even more pressure on the NHS.
It is set to present MPs from the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats with manifesto letters for the next general election, saying there is a ‘massive opportunity’ to protect child health.
More results from the poll showed that 60 per cent of adults think advertising unhealthy food impacts on how much people buy, while 58 per cent would support their local council using planning laws to reduce the number of unhealthy food outlets in their local area.
Meanwhile, 64 per cent would like their local council to be able to restrict unhealthy food and drink advertising in outdoor areas and 76 per cent would support their council’s ability to restrict unhealthy food and drink advertising near places children gather, such as schools and playgrounds.
Katharine Jenner, director of the OHA, said: ‘Today we have written to the potential next prime minister of the country with a simple request to put children’s health first, address Britain’s obesity crisis and redesign a broken food system that puts profit before health.
‘Luckily, there are already policies such as the Soft Drinks Industry Levy that has proven to be effective so all that is required now is to build on this success.
‘As individuals we deserve to have more control over the food and drink that’s available and marketed to us and the next government should lead on child health.’
Professor David Strain, chairman of the British Medical Association’s science board, said: ‘As medical professionals, we can see first-hand the devastating effect that obesity is having on both the child and adult population in the UK.
‘The serious risk of illnesses associated with obesity including cancer, heart disease and diabetes highlights just how life-threatening it can be.
‘Any future prime minister and government must understand the importance of implementing laws and restrictions on the junk food industry that effectively curbs the population’s exposure to the advertising and marketing behind many unhealthy food choices impacting their health.’
Ben Reynolds, of food and farming charity Sustain, said: ‘It should be easy for everyone to eat healthily, especially children, but it isn’t.
‘Our country is flooded with cheap, unhealthy, heavily processed food.
‘If it really was as simple as “eat less and move more” we wouldn’t have a dietary health crisis.
‘The public are crystal clear in their appetite for Government intervention to redesign the food system to put health first.’