'The greatest public health crisis affecting the UK': Doctors demand curbs on fizzy drinks and fast food

 

A tax on fizzy drinks, a limit on fast food outlets near schools and child nutritional advice for new parents are urgently required to help address spiralling levels of obesity, doctors have demanded.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC), which represents nearly every doctor in the UK, said obesity was "the greatest public health crisis affecting the UK" and warned ministers, councils, the NHS and food organisations needed to take action.

The AMRC's report drew parallels with the campaign against smoking, saying: "Just as the challenges of persuading society that the deeply embedded habit of smoking was against its better interests, changing how we eat is now a matter of necessity."

The report criticised the present and previous governments for insufficient and ineffective attempts to tackle the obesity problem and said doctors from across the medical profession are united in their concerns.

The need for action is urgent to break the cycle of "generation after generation falling victim to obesity-related illnesses and death," it added.

Britain is one of the most obese nations in the world, with one in four adults overweight, figures say, and the number is expected to double by 2050.

Doctors are calling for society "as a whole" to act before the obesity crisis becomes irreversible, fearing the situation will otherwise become "unresolvable".

The AMRC put forward 10 recommendations to end the UK being "the fat man of Europe". These include:

* Taxes of 20% on sugary drinks for at least a year;

* Banning the advertising of foods high in saturated fat, sugar and salt before 9pm;

* and leisure centres;

* NHS staff to talk to overweight patients at every appointment about their eating and exercise habits;

* Advice for new parents on how to feed their children properly;

* All schools to serve healthy food in their kitchens;

* A ban on junk food an vending machines in hospital premises and hospitals to apply the same nutritional standards for patients as those in state schools in England;

* £300m to be spent over the next three years on weight management programmes;

* More surgery for the severely obese, to help those at risk of dying.

* Food labels to include calorie information for children.

Professor Terence Stephenson, the chairman of the AMRC,  told the BBC that while there was no "silver bullet" for tackling obesity, the eating culture needs changing to make it easier for people to make healthy decisions.

"I choose what I eat or whether I smoke, what people have told us is they want help to swim with the tide rather than against the current to make the healthy choice the easy one," he said.

He added: "Doctors are often accused of playing the nanny state, we didn't hear from a single person who said they liked being overweight, everybody we met wanted help from the state and society.

"If we didn't have things like this we wouldn't have speed limits that save lives, we wouldn't have drink-driving limits that save lives.

"There's a host of things that society and state does to help us live long, healthy fulfilling lives and we're just suggesting something similar."

The soft drinks industry rejected the idea that a tax would help.

Gavin Partington, director-general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said: "We share the recognition that obesity is a major public health priority but reject the idea that a tax on soft drinks, which contribute just 2% of the total calories in the average diet, is going to address a problem which is about overall diet and levels of activity.

"Over the last 10 years, the consumption of soft drinks containing added sugar has fallen by 9% while the incidence of obesity has been increasing, and 61% of soft drinks now contain no added sugar."

He added: "Soft drinks companies are also committing to further, voluntary action as part of the Government's Responsibility Deal Calorie Reduction Pledge.

"Don't forget that there already is a 20% tax on soft drinks, 10p out of every 60p can of drink already goes to the Government thanks to VAT.

"Putting up taxes even further will put pressure on people's purses at a time when they can ill afford it."

 

Independent partners: Health insurance premiums from 70p a day. Get a quote or call 01202 544 095

VIDEO
Arts & Entertainment
tv
News
Matthew Mcnulty and Jessica Brown Findlay in 'Jamaica Inn'
mediaHundreds complain over dialogue levels in period drama
News
peopleJay Z and Beyoncé to buy £5.5m London townhouse
Voices
voicesMoyes' tragedy is one the Deputy PM understands all too well, says Matthew Norman
Arts & Entertainment
Rocker of ages: Chuck Berry
musicWhy do musicians play into old age?
Arts & Entertainment
With Jo Joyner in 'Trying Again'
tvHe talks to Alice Jones on swapping politics for pillow talk
News
Jilly's jewels: gardener Alan Titchmarsh
peopleCountry Life magazine's list of 'gallant' public figures throws light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Sport
John Terry goes down injured in the 70th minute
sportAtletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Blues can finish the job at Stamford Bridge, but injuries to Terry and Cech are a concern for Mourinho
Student
student
News
<b>Rebecca Adlington</b>
<br />This, the first British swimmer to win two
Olympic gold medals in 100 years, is the eversmiling
face of the athletes who will, we're
confident, make us all proud at London 2012
peopleRebecca Adlington on 'nose surgery'
Arts & Entertainment
tvJudge for yourself
Life & Style
tech
News
Tough call: is the psychological distress Trott is suffering an illness? (Getty)
healthJonathan Trott and the problems of describing mental illness
Life & Style
23 April 2014: Google marks St George's Day with a drawing depicting England's patron saint slaying a fire-breathing dragon
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Clinical Negligence

    Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence - Oxford An opportunity f...

    Projects Financial Analyst - Global Technology firm

    £55000 - £62000 per annum + outstanding benefits and bonus: Pro-Recruitment Gr...

    Reception Teacher

    £120 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Reception teacher required for an Outs...

    Commercial B2B Pricing Specialist - Global Bids and Tenders

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + excellent company benefits : Pro-Recruitment Group...

    Day In a Page

    Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

    It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

    Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
    Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

    Migrants in Britain a decade on

    They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
    Why musicians play into their old age

    Why musicians play into their old age

    Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
    How can you tell a gentleman?

    How can you tell a gentleman?

    A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
    Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

    Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

    The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
    Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

    Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

    Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
    Sam Wallace: Why Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term

    Sam Wallace

    Why Ryan Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term
    Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

    Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

    Having smashed Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old record, the French phenomenon tells Simon Turnbull he can go higher
    Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

    Through the screen

    British Pathé opens its archives
    The man behind the papier mâché mask

    Frank Sidebottom

    The man behind the papier mâché mask
    Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

    Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

    Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
    Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

    Boston runs again

    Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
    40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

    40 years of fostering and holding the babies

    In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents