The APPG on a Fit and Healthy Childhood has released a report on the 7th November which insists the government regulate the marketing of junk food to kids. Right now companies only have an opt-in system where they can volunteer to regulate their own marketing to children however only a few particularly virtuous companies have subscribed to the regime and the APPG on a Fit and Healthy Childhoods new report urges the government to implement a series of mandatory regulations to ensure that companies adopt less aggressive measures marketing their products to vulnerable young people.
Child obesity rates are soaring and the World Health Organisation has highlighted the adverse effect that cynical youth-focused marketing is having on the eating and drinking habits of our children. Whilst Public Health England prefers to take a suggestive approach such as making the Change4Life free Sugar Smart and Be Food Smart apps available these measures are criticised as being underwhelming in the battle against childhood obesity in the face of companies ruthless advertising of unhealthy choices.
Lead Author of the report, and chair of the working group Helen Clark said
‘If the Government really cares about the health and fitness of our children, this report should be welcomed. It’s time now to be proactive - simply ‘working with industry’ on marketing doesn’t work!"
Some of the proposed measures in the report include restoring the £600 Million funding cuts back to local councils public health funding and;
- The banning of friendly characters to advertise junk food.
- Pushing back junk food advertising after a 9pm watershed.
- Fully adopt the UNICEF-advocated ‘child rights’ approach.
Helen Clark went on to explain “Actions must be mandatory to benefit all the UK’s children and industry should be given no room to evade beneficial action, ‘get around it’ or, as too many companies are doing today, simply ignore it. It’s time for those who make policy to stand up and be counted in the children’s corner!’
Understanding our Language: The APPG is an acronym for All-Party Parliamentary Group.
Last week we reported that childhood obesity has been linked to 12 major cancers.
Two major health research reports have been released detailing the links between children’s screen time and the growing rate of short sightedness and long term obesity – identified as one of the key causes of cancer.
The World Cancer Research Fund undertook a global review, considering 80 studies involving more than 200,000 people and identified childhood screen time as a major contributing factor in the development of cancer causing obesity.
“Multiple health issues are reportedly tied to increased screen time however this is a by-product of our time. Children are raised on eBooks in schools now. When using devices at a standing desk at in monitored time frames, children sit less and remain active counteracting many of the negative impacts to their health.” Said Nick White, MD of iwantastandingdesk.com
The WCRF has found links between obesity and 12 major cancer types including breast, prostate, and colon, liver, ovarian, kidney and pancreatic disease.
Short-sightedness has more than doubled in the last 50 years, scientists conclude this is a direct response to increased screen time and King College London have dubbed the issue “digital myopia” as they say every hour spent in front of a computer in childhood increases the risk of short-sightedness in children by a staggering 3%.
Sugary drinks and in- game advertising have both been identified within the report as having some of the strongest contributing factors to childhood obesity and rising health problems.
A paper launched by researchers from the University of Salford in January details suggestions and methods for adults to combat the rise of screen time. Dr Adam Galpin said "Families would benefit from balanced and sensible guidance on how to minimise risk and harmful behaviour whilst encouraging positive uses of digital media.”