Ban snacking on public transport, proposes leading medical officer

The report also called to extend the sugar tax

The report also called to extend the sugar tax

THE outgoing chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies is calling for a ban on eating and drinking on urban public transport.

Dame Sally Davies also said unhealthy foods should cost a bit more, to encourage people to make healthier choices.

Professor Davies' recommendation to extend the levy to milk-based drinks supports a United Kingdom government report - released in July just hours before Boris Johnson was announced as Prime Minister - which says it is considering extending the sugar tax to soft drinks.

She also urged for a review of Value-Added Tax rates on food post-Brexit, ensuring all healthy food has no Value-Added Tax applied, and to ban eating and drinking on public transport to reduce children's snacking.

- Phase out all marketing, advertising and sponsorship of less healthy food and drink products across all media, including online, at any major public venue or public-funded event, and on any public-sector-owned advertising site.

Sally Warren, of the King's Fund think tank, said: 'The government should make full use of the levers at its disposal to tackle obesity. "Yet, if we are bold, we can achieve this goal", she writes in her report.

Some of the health impacts of childhood obesity are asthma, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and joint pain - all of which would rely on the NHS for treatment.

- Strengthen regulation of marketing of follow-on formula milk and improve promotion of breastfeeding, which is known to help reduce the risk of obesity.

- Introduce mandatory standards for the nutritional content of foods for children aged under two.

Her report states: "excess weight has slowly crept up on us all and is now often accepted as normal".

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Professor Davies argues that "today's children are drowning in a flood of unhealthy food and drink options, compounded by insufficient opportunities for being active".

And she urged ministers to be bold in their fight to reduce rates of obesity.

Turning to food firms, she said: "I want to see our children's health, not companies" profits, put at the forefront of government policy'.

The doctor, who also recommended a calorie cap on takeaway portions, said waistlines were expanding in part because of high streets being "flooded with cheap, unhealthy food options".

Around £300m a year is spent on promoting soft drinks, confectionery and sweet and savoury snacks - that's almost half of the total spend on food and drink advertising.

She adds: "Adverts are everywhere, from bus stops to our mobile phones".

"Children have a right to grow up in a healthy environment, but bold and courageous decisions need to be taken to help create this and meet the target of halving childhood obesity by 2030".

She said children;are constantly exposed to advertising for unhealthy food and drink'. This is a matter of health not about how children look.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Health Secretary Matt Hancock also signalled a split with the Prime Minister as he said the policy is "working", and hinted the sin tax could be expanded to other sugary products. "Her parting report is no different and we will study it closely and act on the evidence".

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