‘Ban eating on public transport’: Health chief calls for crackdown

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THE outgoing chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies is calling for a ban on eating and drinking on urban public transport.

And she said more must be done to stop youngsters being "dazzled by companies" offering junk food, saying children are "drowning in a flood of unhealthy food and drink options".

If ministers were not bold, she added, they would fail to meet the target of halving obesity rates by 2030: "The unavoidable fact is that over time our environment has become very unhealthy without us realising".

While smoking was once prevalent on public transport, that ban is far more legitimate as cigarette smoke harms other passengers - whereas eating and drinking whatever an individual chooses does not.

She would also have the government phase out all marketing, advertising and sponsorship of less healthy food and drink products across all media and impose a calorie cap on servings at food outlets.

Before becoming Prime Minister, Mr Johnson has said that the introduction of a milkshake tax would "clobber" those who could least afford afford, warning against "the continuing creep of the nanny state".

100 children per year are now diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a condition that used to be considered an adult health problem.

A venerable London tradition - a greasy kebab saved for consumption on the night bus or the last Tube train - could be under threat under a new proposal to ban eating and drinking on British public transport to help kids lose weight.

- Curb speed limits near schools and homes and encourage more children to walk, scoot or cycle.

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If the government failed to take such actions, they would be sending out a message that they did not put children first, she said.

"Childhood obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges we face and this report is another reminder of the urgent need for radical action to combat this epidemic".

Make free drinking water available in takeaways, food shops and restaurants. "Companies often use children's cartoon characters and sponsorship of major sporting events to market these items, casting them as the shining star in children's minds".

Unhealthy food and drink should be taxed more heavily to help subsidise the price of fruit and vegetables, an influential new report has argued.

She adds: "Adverts are everywhere, from bus stops to our mobile phones".

Today Dame Sally said Government had a "moral responsibility" to act, instead of putting the food industry's profits first. "If they don't the message would be that they are not making children their priority", she said.

She said the Government "must not shy away from regulation", adding: "When Government sets targets or legislates, business innovates and can still make a profit".

"As Public Health England acknowledge, reformulating products takes time, and we must always take the consumer with us", said FDF UK Diet and Health Policy head Kate Halliwell. As many as 90,000 adolescents may be eligible for bariatric surgery - but fewer than 10 stomach-shrinking operations are done on this age group every year.

"We agree more needs to be done to tackle obesity, and welcome the report's clear steer that everyone needs to play their part, including schools, local councils and the NHS".

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