The Food and Drink Federation has branded a report by UK medics calling for a ban on junk food ads before the watershed as a “damp squib”.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) this morning (18 February) set out its “action plan” recommendations in a report that also calls for a 20% increase in the cost of sugary drinks, fewer fast food outlets near schools and a ban on unhealthy food in hospitals.
AoMRC said it believes the “action plan for future campaigning activity” highlighting ten recommendations for healthcare professionals, local and national government, industry and schools, will “help tackle the nation’s obesity crisis”.
The report claims current strategies are failing and so calls for action by ministers, the NHS, councils and food firms, as well as changes in parental behaviour, to break the cycle of “generation after generation falling victim to obesity-related illnesses and death”.
The FDF, however, said the report adds “little to an important debate”. It said the report failed to recognise the role of alcohol in adding “significant” calories to adult diets, and said little about physical activity and “health in the workplace”.
The federation’s director of communications Terry Jones said: “The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has presented as its recommendations a collection of unbalanced ideas apparently heavily influenced by single-issue pressure groups.
“FDF had hoped that today’s report would have looked seriously at how the food industry and the medical profession would have worked together to tackle obesity, and genuinely brought new insights to bear on how to empower healthier choices and change behaviour to deliver better long-term public health outcomes. This report fails to do that.”
Paul Lindley, founder of babyfood brand Ella’s Kitchen and the Averting A Recipe For Disaster children’s campaign said that while the report puts forward “some valid suggested solutions”, the reality is “this is a multi-faceted issue that goes further than obesity”.
Lindley said the obesity issue requires “collaborative and coordinated solutions” from industry, government, educators, individuals and the media.
“A sugar tax will not solve the problem, in of itself. Tax and regulation should be at least considered as part of this mix, however if these measures are to be used, they must be seen as realistic threats that will be put into action and be part of a wider co-ordinated strategy.”