Scottish Government backs Westminster committee over junk food ad ban

Written by Tom Freeman on 31 May 2018 in News

Call for junk food ad ban backed by public health minister Aileen Campbell

Houses of Parliament - PA

A report on childhood obesity by Westminster’s Health and Social Care Committee has received the backing of the Scottish Government.

Among its proposals, the group of MPs recommended a ban on advertising sugary products on TV before 9pm and a crackdown on cartoon characters on labels of high sugar products aimed at children.

It also said the sugar tax should be extended to cover flavoured milk drinks.

The committee, led by Tory backbencher Dr Sarah Wollaston, has piled pressure on the UK Government after its previous 2016 obesity strategy was downgraded to a plan.

Campaigners criticised it for not taking the issue seriously at a time when more than a quarter of children are overweight and obese, with the problem much more acute in poorer communities.

The Scottish Government’s obesity strategy was due at the same time, but has yet to emerge. It has held two consultations on the matter and the final strategy is now due this summer.

Wollaston called for a “whole system approach”.

“Obesity rates are highest for children from the most disadvantaged communities and this unacceptable health inequality has widened every year since records began,” she said.

“The consequences for these children are appalling and this can no longer be ignored.”

Responding, Scotland’s public health minister Aileen Campbell said: “I welcome this report and its recommendations, which echo the Scottish Government’s repeated calls for decisive action in a number of areas including restricting junk food advertising until after the 9pm watershed.

“Actions such as these will have a significant impact in helping children and young people make healthier choices, change their eating habits and live healthier lives. I would expect the UK Government to listen to these calls and take seriously their responsibilities or otherwise provide Scotland the powers needed to address these issues ourselves.

“Improving the food environment is the single biggest change we want to see in Scotland in terms of public health. Our forthcoming diet and healthy weight delivery plan – published this summer – will include innovative proposals to restrict the promotion of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.”

The forthcoming Good Food Nation Bill aims to tackle food inequality and waste.

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