Thousands of children are going to become obese because politicians are failing to impose an immediate ban on junk food TV adverts, the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association said today (Wednesday, 26 May).
The House of Commons Health Select Committee on obesity has been criticised by the CPHVA for missing ‘a great opportunity to raise the flag of public health to an overweight population of school children’.
The CPHVA is concerned that the Select Committee report is recommending an
Annual Body Mass Index Screening of school age children by school nurses, while backpedaling on an immediate ban of adverts for crisps and high sugar content drinks.
‘Unfortunately, the Select Committee has missed the point’, said the CPHVA’s Professional Officer for School Health and Public Health, Pat Jackson.
‘What’s the logic of screening millions of children annually to find out their weight, when all the subtleties of the modern advertising age are being used to seduce them to eat unhealthy food?’
The CPHVA represents the majority of UK 2,500 school nurses and believes that identifying overweight children is not the complete answer. There must be an anti-obesity strategy that embraces families, schools, and every section of the community, at time when an estimated 25% of children are overweight.
Pat Jackson said: ‘What is the reasoning behind the screening? Is it purely for public health data to see how well or not we are doing? Or is diagnostic screening – if so, what are school nurses to do with all those children who have raised BMI?’
The CPHVA is also concerned about the high cost of mass screening and the adverse affect it might have on other public health initiatives. There are also not enough school nurses in the UK to carry out such initiatives and the CPHVA has consistently called for the employment of an extra 500 school nurses as a top public health priority.
Pat Jackson said: ‘The CPHVA is concerned that vital funds for public health could be earmarked for mass screening, to the detriment of equally important areas, such as teenage pregnancy, mental health, vulnerable children and young people.’
The CPHVA would like to see a ban on TV adverts for junk food introduced as soon as possible.