Can a ban on junk food advertising reverse our childrens’ unhealthy food intake?

Photo by Amina Filkins on

From the BMJ 3 July and 21 August 21

Advertisements for unhealthy food and drink will be banned before the 9pm watershed by the end of 2022 in television and on demand programmes in the UK.

Chris Thomas, a research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy would have liked to have seen measures going further, by taxation of these foods. He says that money raised could be used to fund free nutritious food for those who need it. This improves both health and the economy.

In the USA, children get two thirds of their energy intake from ultra processed foods. The proportion of calories from such food is rising steadily. In 1999 it was 61.4% and in 2018 it was 67%. As the amount of wholesome, home cooked food reduces, the levels of childhood obesity increase. Ready meals are responsible for 11.2%, and sweet snacks 12.9%. The trend is now reducing for sugary drinks, sauces and oils.

More Children Suffering from Type 2 Diabetes

diabetes lettersThe BBC reported this week that there has been a worrying rise in the number of children developing Type 2 diabetes.

Figures for England & Wales show that 533 children and young people have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Last year’s figure was 500. Most children have type 1 diabetes and the type 2 figure represents 2 percent of all cases of diabetes.

While type 2 diabetes is much more common overall, it is still rare in children. Type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity.

The Local Government Association, which represents local councils who have responsibility for public health, believes cases will continue to rise. They believe the Government’s childhood obesity strategy, which is yet to be published, needs to take bold action.

The LGA has called for teaspoon sugar labelling of products and reduced sugar in fizzy drinks, as well as greater provision of tap water in schools. The association also thinks councils should be given the power to ban junk food advertising near schools.

The government has postponed the publication of its childhood obesity plan a number of times. It is expected to be published later this summer.

The Department of Health said it was determined to tackle obesity and that the strategy would look at everything that contributes to a child becoming overweight.



*Pic thanks to Practical Cures on flickr