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Our children can no longer wait for action on obesity

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Every parent wants the best for their children; for their life chances, their health and most of all their happiness.

So when we think about the food families buy, we start with the firm understanding that parents want to do a good job.

But this is not always easy.  How many parents have time to calculate the sugar, salt and fat in their meals or overcome ‘pester power’ while navigating supermarket aisles?

For those who believe that state action is wrong, the evidence says our children cannot wait any longer.

We won’t be forgiven by parents for inaction because we now have the evidence proving how much this matters and it also points to the action we must take.

It begins with the food itself and this is where the evidence is strongest.  This means manufacturers reducing the amount of sugar and calorie in products typically consumed by children.  In May, we reported on the first year’s progress of our sugar reduction programme, which has seen promising action from some businesses.

We have also started work on our calorie reduction programme, have recently published guidance for the drinks industry on removing sugar from milk based drinks and juices, and the sugar levy came into effect in April.

Yet we have been consistently clear these measures marked the starting point, and more was needed.

Today, the Government has acted on this by publishing the second chapter of its Childhood Obesity Plan.

This bold new plan announces action to further restrict the advertising of foods high in sugar, fat and salt; and to end unhealthy food and drink multi-buy promotions.  We also welcome the commitment to out of home calorie labelling, as this levels the playing field between retailers and manufactures and provides consumers with the information they need wherever they buy food.

For PHE we will continue to work tirelessly with policy makers and with industry at every level and champion and support local action by councils, schools and the NHS and, of course, the third and voluntary sector.

And of course we will continue to support families through our social marketing campaigns such as Change4Life and OneYou.

This is a fabulous moment for turning the tide on the epidemic of childhood obesity and no other country is taking the problem on with such ambition.  I am proud of our contribution to this and fully support the Government in turning these plans into reality for our children.

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