We now have a National Obesity Strategy, what’s next?
People living with obesity who contract COVID-19 are at increased risk of serious illness. This has contributed to calls to address the unhealthy food environment. Causes of obesity are complex, but much can be linked to the proliferation of unhealthy food and drink and their promotion, availability, and pricing.
To halt the rise and reverse the trend in the prevalence of obesity in adults by 2030
To reduce overweight and obesity in children and adolescents aged 2-17 years by at least 5% by 2030
The Strategy recognises policies and regulations are needed to counter the unhealthy food environment and meet one of the three ambitions — to provide supportive, sustainable and healthy environments.
It is not unsurprising that reducing children’s exposure to unhealthy food and drink marketing, promotion and sponsorship is a strategy under this ambition. There are examples from around the world that demonstrate that action on reducing junk food marketing is effective.
The actions within the Strategy show that there is a role for all governments to play.
A national priority should be to introduce policy to protect children from digital marketing.
Local government and community organisations could limit the marketing and sponsorship of sporting and community events to healthy foods.
However, let’s not leave everything to the authorities. Supermarkets could stop price promotions on unhealthy foods. Food manufacturers could stop marketing their products in places children go, both physically and online and on TV.
The Strategy provides a framework to guide work over the next ten years. The next steps are action plans to turn this theoretical framework into action.