Say no to junk food, that’s what Simon Stevens, the guy who run NHS, believes in. He is not having it with all that junk food anymore. He says that leaders must now come forward and take a stand against how junk food is being marketed to the average consumer, and more specifically to children.
The main problem? Stevens has an issue with how sugar has been turned into the newage staple food. The government is feeling the heat and a tax on sugary foods maybe on the horizon. MPs are asking for over 20% more taxes on such foods, even though the prime minister is yet to give a nod to the idea.
The Commons Health Select committee recently laid out that change is needed in not just the consumption of sugar, but also in terms of how people are being shown advertisements about it.
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In recent months we have seen countless studies about just how awful sugar can be for the body – but it’s the body of a child it affects in the worst way. And Stevens is right, tougher measures are now needed.
Stevens told senior nurses that health service had a crucial role in ensuring that a national debate takes an actual path that works.
“I think as NHS leaders, by standing up and being counted on these topics we can help change the tide of opinion in this country.
“We have to take a more assertive stance particularly on junk food, advertising and marketing of food aimed at children and sugar,” he said.
The approach that Stevens is endorsing has two faces – one is an increase in tax and the other is a decrease in marketing opportunities for companies. The select committee also doesn’t think that the government can very easily rely on health education campaigns and leave it at that – and with research now comparing sugar addiction with high level drug addiction, one finds it hard to disagree. Really, when was the last time a heroin addict gave up a hit because they saw a health campaign.
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MPs on the committee also think those buy one get one free deals, and other similar stuff, should be kicked out of supermarkets. A complete ban on supermarkets placing sugary treat at the end of checkouts and aisles has also been suggested.
The situation is so dire because of how it’s going to affect the future generation. Children between the ages of 11 and 18 account for 29% of all the sugar sweetened drinks that are being consumed. Over 16% is made up of younger kids.
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Surveys also show that many parents actually have no idea how much sugar their children are consuming through their dietary choices.
The obesity pandemic isn’t going to go away anytime soon. The NHS shells out over £5.1 billion annually in trying to tackle the issue, but it doesn’t seem to be bearing fruit the way it is needed. Action now could mean that an entire generation could be made secure, and lack of it could result in dire consequences both in the short and long run.