Nick Smith MP has welcomed reports that the Government is considering a junk food ad clampdown as a “watershed moment for public health”.
The Blaenau Gwent MP used his Parliamentary debate on the NHS’s 70th birthday and public health last month to call on the Government to tackle TV programmes being “bookended by burgers and packaged with pizzas”.
Now reports are circulating that a 9pm television watershed like the one imposed on sex and violence will be introduced from 2020 by the health secretary Jeremy Hunt for foods high in sugar and salt.
It comes after the Institute for Fiscal Studies revealed that about half of television food and drink adverts seen by children were for products high in salt, fat or sugar or fast food restaurants.
Speaking about the rumoured child obesity campaign by the Government, Mr Smith said it could have a momentous impact on the nation’s health if followed through.
“I’m glad to hear that the Government may be listening here and taking real steps after their first child obesity plan didn’t tackle this problem,” he said.
“Advertising has a powerful effect on our lives, whether we like to admit it or not.
“Anything that can reduce the pressure on parents to give in to ‘pester power’ and skip a balanced diet for their children is a step change in the right direction.
“I hope the Government continues to take this expert advice seriously, do the right thing and build an obesity plan that’s fit for purpose.
The latest figures from the Child Measurement Programme revealed 15.1% of four-to-five year olds in Blaenau Gwent are in the obese category.
While current advertising laws have clamped down on advertising during childrens’ programming, prime time programmes and top sporting events– likely to be viewed by the whole family – have escaped regulation.
In addition, organisations such as Cancer Research UK and the head of the NHS Simon Stevens have called for updated rules so junk food adverts do not just saturate the internet and social media instead.