Labour will stop short of requiring food manufacturers to change the fat, salt or sugar content of their products, but Ashworth hoped it would encourage a change, as the sugar tax had done with soft drinks…reports Asian Lite News
Labour would ban junk food adverts from primetime TV shows such as the X Factor until after the 9pm watershed as part of a manifesto pledge to halve childhood obesity within five years.
The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said the party wanted to make the next British generation “the healthiest in the world” with a package of reforms that would also include a £250m-a-year fund to invest in school nurses and counselling services in primary and secondary schools.
“We are going to apply the rules currently applied to children’s TV and apply that to TV more generally, so when you’re sat down with your children, as I do, watching X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent, you’re not going to be seeing adverts for junk food,” Ashworth told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“This isn’t the only measure to help us tackle obesity, but a number of children are watching these shows and there is research that children see the adverts for McDonald’s and hassle their parents to go there. I do take my children to McDonald’s, but it’s all about doing it in moderation.”
Labour will stop short of requiring food manufacturers to change the fat, salt or sugar content of their products, but Ashworth hoped it would encourage a change, as the sugar tax had done with soft drinks.
“I think Ribena, for example, are changing their sugar content [in response to the sugar tax], so there’s no reason why food companies cannot do similar. If they want to advertise their foods on Britain’s Got Talent, they can reduce the salt, the sugar, the fat content,” he said.
“We think this is an important place to start, I don’t want to be overly heavy-handed but we have to do something, this is costing the NHS £6bn and if we can reduce that bill then we can be putting that money to frontline care.”
Ashworth said the party would also consider changes to food labelling to make it clearer about fat content, but there were no plans to propose cigarette packet-style warnings.
Adverts for unhealthy products high in fat, salt or sugar are already banned on children’s television. Labour’s plans would extend the prohibition to cover all programmes before the 9pm watershed.
Campaigners have argued that the existing ban does not cover TV programmes popular with youngsters but not specifically aimed at them. The party said the ban would reduce children’s viewing of junk food adverts by 82%.
The party said it would propose a new child health bill, which would write into law the ambition for the UK’s children to be the healthiest in the world and require all government departments to have a child health strategy.