A ban on eating food on trains and buses is one of the measures which the Government should consider to tackle obesity, says the outgoing chief medical officer. Doctors to recommend TV-free days to combat obesity
Professor Dame Sally Davies said: “It has crept up on us that we lead a much more snacking, grazing existence, that portions have got bigger, that marketing is all pervasive”, and urged action to turn the UK into “a society where it’s normal not to snack”.
Davies cited the example of Japan, “which is one of the least overweight of the rich nations… they don’t allow snacking and eating on local transport” and encouraged a similar ban in the UK, with exemptions only for water, breastfeeding and those with medical conditions.
The suggestion has predictably met with resistance. Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, told the The Telegraph: “The suggestion that it be a crime to eat a sandwich on a train brings Dame Sally’s tenure as Chief Medical Officer to a fittingly authoritarian conclusion.”
The Daily Mail says the suggestions from Britain’s “nanny-in-chief” are her “most radical proposals to date”.
Dame Sally says she was “horrified” that crisp and popcorn brands were allowed to sponsor shirts in a family-oriented cricket tournament. She is calling for a ban on unhealthy products sponsoring sports or advertising at large events.
She also suggests an upheaval of food taxation, with higher VAT rates applied to unhealthy foods and healthy ones exempted entirely. Currently, “it is too easy to make money from selling unhealthy food and too hard to make money from selling healthy food”, she said.
“All of these things are options and we need a lot of options because there’s no magic bullet.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock, who commissioned her report, said: “We will study the report and act on the evidence.”
Two-thirds of adults and a third of children are now overweight and the UK has the third highest obesity rate in Europe.
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