Ban snacking on public transport, proposes leading medical officer

Overweight and obese children at Year 6 level in England

The report, entitled Time To Solve Childhood Obesity, was written by chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies and published this week.

Dame Sally said the systems of applying Value-Added Tax to food that may not be aligned with healthy eating advice contributed to healthy food and drink often being pricier than unhealthy options.

But we need to remember that they are more likely to be healthy eating and eating. the society and environment we live in.

She recommended a suite of government policies, including a tax hike on soft drinks, plain packaging for sugary and fatty foods, a cap on calories and portion sizes in the food take-away and delivery industry, free water refills at all food retail sites and a ban on junk food ads at sporting events and online.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants to see a review of so-called "sin taxes" - including the sugar tax - to see how effective they are.

Professor Davies says that the Government's National Obesity Plan and the NHS Long Term Plan, if implemented in full, would significantly reduce levels of childhood obesity and improve children's health, but they alone will not meet the 2030 ambition.

Katharine Jenner, at Action on Sugar, said Davies' "brave call for bold action is a beacon of hope" and that there was an urgent need to restrict promotions and marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages, which can only be achieved through legislation.

100 children per year are now diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a condition that used to be considered an adult health problem.

Eating on public transport should be banned, according to England's top doctor.

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- Curb speed limits near schools and homes and encourage more children to walk, scoot or cycle.

She said children were "drowning in a flood of unhealthy options, compounded by insufficient opportunities for being active", adding: "I want to see our children's health, not companies' profits, put at the forefront of government policy".

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

Make free drinking water available in takeaways, food shops and restaurants.

"Cheap unhealthy food options now take centre stage in our lives and in our shops", Davies wrote.

But the Food and Drink Federation said firms were working hard to cut unhealthy ingredients, and "punitive measures" might hinder their efforts.

"Companies often use children's cartoon characters and sponsorship of major sporting events to market these items, casting them as the shining star in children's minds", she said. Children are explicitly targeted with sophisticated techniques.

Not everyone agrees with Dame Sally's comments though. "Her thirst for taxing things is only exceeded by her thirst for banning things", he said.

Responding to the findings, Mr Hancock said: "Professor Dame Sally Davies has done more than anyone to promote the health of the nation over a decade as CMO". By making snacking on the public transport issue, we are reinforcing the (incorrect) presumption that weight, and health, is something we can control - it's simply a matter of personal responsibility.

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