Call for control on food promotion

The head of the Christian Medical Fellowship has called for controls on the promotion of foods that offer high energy but little nutritional value.

Dr Peter Saunders’ comments came as the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges called for a ban on fast-food sponsorship deals.

The academy, which represents every doctor in the country, criticised the Government’s “inherently” flawed approach to tackling the nation’s obesity problem, which currently relies on the food and beverages industry to voluntarily cut calories.

The doctors called upon the Government to put a stop to “irresponsible marketing” by big brand food and drinks manufacturers.

They also demanded an end to the likes of McDonalds advertising at major sporting events like the Olympics, and proposed a ‘fat tax’ to be added to the least healthy foods.

The UK has the highest obesity rates in Europe, with 24 per cent of women and 22 per cent of men now classed as obese.

Around one in three children are overweight or obese by the age of nine.

Dr Saunders echoed the doctors’ calls, but added that there was a social justice dimension to the problem.

He said: “Obesity hurts individuals, robs families of loved ones through early death and damages society through impaired self-esteem, days lost from work and escalating healthcare costs.

“It is also unjust that whilst many in Britain are overeating, many more in the developing world do not have enough food to stay healthy.

“People need to be encouraged to make healthy lifestyle choices by eating less and exercising more, but societal change is also desperately needed: availability of healthy eating options at a similar cost to processed foods to all sectors of society, controls on high-profile promotion of foods with high energy density but little nutritional value and access to cheap and free leisure facilities for all.”

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