Medicine

Ban snacking on public transport, proposes leading medical officer

Ban snacking on public transport, proposes leading medical officer

In her parting report, the CMO has called for action against junk food, including a ban on eating and drinking on public transport, in a bid to tackle obesity.

June O'Sullivan, chief executive of the Early Years Foundation, said, 'Professor Dame Sally Davies is absolutely right by saying schools and nurseries need to play a central role in helping fight childhood obesity and get children healthier and more active.

If ministers were not bold, she added, they would fail to meet the target of halving obesity rates by 2030: "The unavoidable fact is that over time our environment has become very unhealthy without us realising".

There is no further definition of what "urban" public transport is, and her words have been variously reported, with some versions suggesting that it implies a ban on all food consumption on trains, although her report does not say this.

And she said all publicly-funded sporting venues and major sporting events must only advertise and sell low-calorie, low-fat, low-salt and low-sugar food and drink.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been a critic in the past of initiatives such as the sugar tax, which he sees as "the continuing creep of the nanny state". It is one of a number of recommendations in her last official report, which is about reducing childhood obesity. However we have to do not forget that most limitations to "healthy eating" aren't resulting from a scarcity of schooling or consciousness that on stability, most of us needs to be consuming our greens and shifting extra - they're created by the society and surroundings we dwell in.

She adds that around 1.2 million children are classed as clinically obese, with many of them having side effects including Type 2 diabetes, asthma and mental health problems.

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

Turning to food firms, she said: "I want to see our children's health, not companies" profits, put at the forefront of government policy'.

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- Strengthen regulation of marketing of follow-on formula milk and improve promotion of breastfeeding, which is known to help reduce the risk of obesity.

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

Increasing portion sizes and the ready availability of junk food means children now, on average, consume three unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, containing seven teaspoons of sugar.

The report, which is aimed at current and future politicians and policy makers, further outlines how the obesity crisis is fuelling a rising number of children with type 2 diabetes; something that was almost non-existent pre-2000.

"Unhealthy options appear to flow freely, flooding high streets, shops and checkouts".

Food companies have been urged to cut the sugar in their products, but could still do more, said the report.

Not everyone agrees with Dame Sally's comments though. "If they don't the message would be that they are not making children their priority", she said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government would study the report closely and "act on the evidence", though a Department for Health spokesman said there were no plans to ban snacking on public transport. As many as 90,000 adolescents may be eligible for bariatric surgery - but fewer than 10 stomach-shrinking operations are done on this age group every year.