A month ago, the government announced their ambition to halve numbers of children with obesity by 2030. It’s a big target that demands action across the board to redesign our food environment. Luckily, the strategy delivers in some really important areas that we have been campaigning for with Jamie Oliver.
What was in the plan?
The plan announced consultations to tackle junk food marketing to kids with a 9pm watershed for junk food ads on TV and similar measures online. It commits to a consultation reviewing the Healthy Start Voucher Scheme (which helps women who are pregnant or have a young child buy essential foods like fruit and milk) to give more support to low income families. It vows to consult on restricting multi-buy promotions like Buy One Get One Free that nudge us into buying more unhealthy food. And it announces two more consultations on cracking down on selling energy drinks to under 16s and giving us clearer nutritional information on menus in restaurants, shops and takeaways.
Is there a catch?
The key word here is “consultation”. From now until the end of the year there will be long consultation processes where stakeholders – from industry, to campaigners, to the public – can give their opinions on these policies. This means that industry lobbyists have more time to grind down government ministers. And it also means we may not see legislation until way into 2019 or even 2020. We’ll be pushing to make sure our key priorities still come out the other side of this process.
Does the reshuffle change things?
Swift action is absolutely key. After a series of Brexit-related resignations, we now have new people in the two positions that are absolutely critical for child health in this country. Matt Hancock has moved from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to Health and former Attorney General Jeremy Wright takes his old job. We need these two people to drive forward the government’s plan with determination and enthusiasm and building strong relationships to win them over to our arguments will be absolutely crucial.
You can find Jamie’s full statement and find a link to the full government plan here.