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Labour pledges more radical obesity policies

A Labour government would introduce more stringent restrictions on junk food advertising to children and extend the soft drinks levy to cover milkshakes.

Speaking at this week’s Food Matters Live conference in London, shadow health minister Jon Ashworth said the government’s childhood obesity strategy should have been far more radical and promised that a Labour government would go much further in areas such as marketing and taxation.

He said that a ban on advertising junk foods would extend beyond programmes targeted specifically at children to include family entertainment shows such as The X Factor.

He also pledged to expand the soft drinks levy to cover milk-based sugary drinks such as milkshakes.

Speaking on the same panel, Gina Radford, deputy chief medical officer for England, claimed the UK had the most ambitious obesity strategy in the world but noted that the plan was just the first step on a journey to tackling the UK’s obesity crisis.

She said she had been encouraged by the leadership shown by food businesses in areas such as product reformulation where the current focus is on removing sugar from nine food categories.

In 2018, Public Health England will announce new targets for calorie reduction in food and drink products that children consume the most. The programme is likely to focus initially on ready meals, pizzas, burgers and savoury snacks.