You actually couldn’t make it up. Once once more, the federal government has received itself right into a high-quality mess. This time, it has gone again on its promise to make baby well being a precedence, blowing an enormous gap in its personal weight problems technique that at one stage regarded genuinely progressive and even world main.
Let’s take a more in-depth take a look at what simply occurred. At a time when baby weight problems has had the greatest annual spike since information started, and when children from decrease revenue households are twice as more likely to be overweight, Boris Johnson and the well being secretary, Sajid Javid, have U-turned on the central insurance policies in their very own weight problems technique. They have delayed the ban on junk meals promoting and multi-buy grocery store offers. These insurance policies have solely lately change into regulation – within the case of the promoting restrictions they handed by means of parliament solely final month.
Have little doubt that these insurance policies would have a profound affect on baby well being. Advertising restrictions work. A current peer-reviewed examine by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine confirmed that because of the mayor of London’s junk meals promoting restrictions on the capital’s buses and tube trains, households are actually shopping for 1,000 fewer energy per week from meals that’s excessive in fats, salt and sugar.
These insurance policies are additionally actually well-liked with the general public – current polling from ComRes discovered that 74% of individuals surveyed assist promoting restrictions. Measures to cease the promotion of junk meals are additionally backed by docs, nurses, well being specialists and well being charities. My current open letter to the prime minister asking him to reverse his U-turn was signed by greater than 30 organisations, together with Cancer Research and British Heart Foundation. And it doesn’t cease there – these insurance policies are supported by members of his personal celebration together with William Hague; former well being ministers Lord Bethell and Steve Brine; and “red wall” MPs equivalent to Jo Gideon. According to Hague, the prime minister was torpedoed into kicking again the junk meals advertising and marketing restrictions by a tiny minority of Tory backbenchers who threatened to place in letters of no confidence if he didn’t. What an Eton mess that is, when crucial baby well being insurance policies are being determined by a cabal who now seemingly have the PM of their pocket.
The spurious causes the federal government has given to justify these screeching coverage U-turns are that they are going to assist with the price of residing disaster and they’ll additionally assist companies. The authorities is aware of full effectively that neither of these issues are true. Why? Because its personal analysis reveals that these insurance policies is not going to save households cash, and that multi-buys are rigorously designed to make individuals spend extra money (in fact they’re!), not much less. In reality, they make households spend extra on their weekly store. As far as limiting junk meals promoting is worried, stopping corporations from advertising and marketing meals excessive in sugar, fats and salt to youngsters has completely nothing to do with the price of residing.
The proof might additionally not be clearer that insurance policies which can be good for baby well being will also be good for enterprise. Before the Transport for London promoting restrictions got here into drive two years in the past, the promoting and meals industries have been saying they might be hit exhausting and promoting revenues would tumble. What truly occurred? Food corporations merely began promoting their barely more healthy merchandise and TfL promoting revenues truly elevated by £2.3m that yr.
So the place will we go from right here? In a number of weeks’ time Johnson and Javid will attempt to promote us their sparkly new well being disparities white paper. It’s more and more wanting like a nasty joke. How might we probably take them significantly when solely weeks earlier they’ve U-turned on their very own crucial, evidence-based baby well being insurance policies which have been years within the making? It’s exhausting to think about one thing higher designed to extend well being disparities than this spineless U-turn pushed by political short-termism. And why do they suppose the tiny group of backbench MPs which have ripped an enormous gap of their weight problems technique will enable them to incorporate any significant insurance policies of their new white paper?
There continues to be time for Johnson and Javid to do the precise factor. I like Javid. I feel he’s a good human being, one of many good ones. Now he must step up and inform his boss to guard and promote baby well being. To provide you with measures that genuinely assist those that are already struggling to feed themselves and their households effectively. Otherwise each the soon-to-be-launched well being disparities white paper and his lately launched most cancers plan received’t be definitely worth the paper they’re written on.