Doctors have urged the Government to prohibit junk food advertising before the watershed, and on all channels with a sizeable child audience. The demand was made at the BMA's annual conference on public health medicine, the chair of which, Dr Kailash Agrawal, described childhood obesity as "a public health time bomb".
Dr Agrawal said that, if the Government ignores the obesity problem, health problems such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease will escalate to chronic levels. Meanwhile, Dr Peter Tiplady, chairman of the BMA's public health committee, said at the conference: "Children are being bombarded with adverts for products that are extremely bad for their health. Food manufacturers are deliberately targeting them by using sports personalities to send out the message that junk food and fizzy drinks will make them more popular."
Dr Tiplady told the conference of the need for a co-ordinated approach to tackle the obesity epidemic, and lamented the fact that many schools have sold off their playing fields while failing to provide nutritional foods, thereby exacerbating Britain's weight problem.
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Press Release: Tuesday, 8th June (BMA)
British Medical Association (BMA) Press release
Call for ban on junk food advertising before the watershed
Junk food manufacturers should be banned from targeting unhealthy products
at children, public health doctors said today (Monday 7 June).
The BMA's Annual Conference of Public Health Medicine called on the
government to ban television advertising of junk foods before the
watershed, and on all channels aimed at children.
Dr Peter Tiplady, chairman of the BMA's Public Health Committee, said the
measure was essential to protect children's health: "Children are being
bombarded with adverts for products that are extremely bad for their
health. Food manufacturers are deliberately targeting them by using sports
personalities to send out the message that junk food and fizzy drinks will
make them more popular."
Dr Kailash Agrawal, who chaired the conference, said: "Childhood obesity
is a public health time bomb. If the government ignores it we will see
huge increases in diabetes, strokes, cancer and heart disease - obesity has
the potential to cause the same devastation as smoking."
In his address to the conference Dr Tiplady called for a joined-up approach
to tackle the problem. Commenting on the need for action from schools and
government, he said: "It's easy to say that obesity is a matter of
personal choice, but often that's not true for children. Schools should
allow children to eat healthily and get enough exercise, but many have sold
off their playing fields, installed junk food vending machines, and failed
to provide healthy school meals. If we're going to prevent a major public
health crisis we need a joined up approach. Schools and local authorities
have a huge responsibility but they need enough funding to be able to
provide safe playing areas and healthy food."