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BMA briefing: Childhood obesity

The BMA submission to the Health Select Committee follows the government’s publication of its obesity action plan. While there are measures in the government obesity action plan which the BMA is strongly supportive of we are also extremely disappointed with scope of the strategy, in particular the absence of measures to curb marketing and promotional activities.

This briefing outlines the following BMA views and recommendations:

  • The BMA strongly supports the sugar levy, but believes that additional actions are also needed to address the growing trend of childhood obesity.
  • While we support mandatory limits on added sugar content in processed and pre-packaged food, we note that the government’s action plan sets out a voluntary approach. For this to work, Public Health England should be given sufficient support to implement an effective reduction programme. If this approach is not successful then mandatory requirements should be implemented.
  • Despite some restrictions there is evidence that children are still heavily exposed to marketing of unhealthy products in broadcast and non-broadcast media. The BMA firmly believes that tighter restrictions must be applied to these types of marketing given the influence they have on children. 
  • The BMA would ultimately like to see a ban on all marketing of unhealthy food and drink products to children. In the short-term, existing controls should be strengthened by revising the broadcast and non-broadcast regulations to prevent the marketing of unhealthy products that appeal in any way to children (including the use of promotional offers, licensed characters and celebrity endorsements. 
  • Restrictions should also be developed in areas not covered by existing regulations, including marketing activities involving sponsorship of events, activities, individuals or groups. Events such as the Olympics, or FIFA World Cup are likely to appeal to children and young people.


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BMA submission to the Health Select Committee ahead of the follow-up evidence session on childhood obesity

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