Responding to the government’s disappointing childhood obesity strategy, Professor Parveen Kumar, BMA board of science chair, said:
“Given the UK has the highest level of obesity in Western Europe with one in three children overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school, the government should be doing everything in its power to tackle this problem. Instead it has rowed back on its promises by announcing a weak plan rather than the robust strategy it promised.
“Although the government proposes targets for food companies to reduce the level of sugar in their products, the fact that these are voluntary and not backed up by regulation, renders them pointless. Targets are also needed to reduce levels of saturated fat and salt in products – these must be backed up by regulation.
“Poor diet has become a feature of our children’s lives, with junk food more readily available, and food manufacturers bombarding children with their marketing every day for food and drinks that are extremely bad for their health. It is incredibly disappointing that the government has failed to include any plans for tighter controls on marketing and promotion.
“While the introduction of a sugar tax is an encouraging step forward, this on its own is not enough to solve the obesity problem facing our country. Poor diet is responsible for up to 70,000 deaths a year, and has a greater impact on the NHS budget than alcohol consumption, smoking or physical inactivity.
“The government must act now and take urgent action to address the ticking time-bomb that obesity poses to children and the NHS.”