According to a study conducted in the year 2017, at least thirty percent of kids aged two to fifteen in the UK are overweight. Studies also show that there is an increasing trend where children get obese at very early ages and carry that weight long into their adulthood. Given the number of risks associated with such problems such as premature deaths, diabetes, and blindness, the government determined that there was a need for a plan to combat this issue.
Being overweight can lead children to suffer from problems such as heart diseases and depression which were previously more prevalent in the aging population. Having obese children also affects our economy because we end up spending more of taxpayers’ money on the treatment of lifestyle diseases than we do on services such as the police forces and our legal systems. According to a survey conducted in the year 2016, the NHS put up at least five billion pounds in a bid to treat problems associated with being overweight. As such, I can understand why the government would wish to introduce a plan to deal with this issue.
The unfortunate thing about obesity is that the children who are the least economically capable are the ones who get affected the most. Statistics show that children from needy families tend to have twice the likelihood of becoming obese at the age of five when compared to those who are wealthier. By the time children attain the age of eleven, the risk increases to three times.
Many factors can lead a child to become overweight. Aside from the genetic build of a child, their environment, culture and behavioral patterns also play a part. It all comes down to how much a child is eating and how much of that food gets used up in physical activity. If a child consumes much more than they can use up, they end up storing the excess food in the form of fats, and this leads to problems in the future.
Change can only get attained if all people can put their hands together in coming up with sustainable measures and implementing them. Where one stakeholder fails to hold up their end of the bargain, all the efforts put into the thought will go to waste. The government introduced this plan as a way to reduce the prevalence of overweight children, and it hopes that by the year 2027, we will be in a position to see a positive change in the health of our younger generations. I should expect so too.
What the government was clear about when it came up with this plan is that it is not final and that they are open to discussion.
Levy on Soft Drinks
This measure comes as no surprise to me especially when I think of all the gallons of carbonated beverages which children drink in a year. These substances are full of all sorts of sugars and chemicals which are of no nutritional value to children. They provide a lot of energy which seldom gets used up and instead remains in the body like a layer of fat. Year after year, our children consume these drinks, and with each sip, they are a step closer to obesity than they were.
These drinks also ruin the dental health of our children thanks to the number of sugars in them. Studies show that one bottle of soda exceeds the daily recommended sugar intake for children. So what happens when you give your child three bottles? You expose them to diseases such as diabetes.
The government hopes to introduce a levy on such beverages and the money collected will get directed to programs aimed at encouraging kids to take part in sports and in providing healthy meal plans for schools. A portion of the funds will also get allocated to a breakfast program where children can get a healthy meal at the beginning of the day to fire them up for the activities ahead.
The levy will not be charged to you, the consumer, but instead, it will be on the manufacturer and importers to encourage them to reduce the amount of sugar in drinks. They have a timeline of two years to abide by the sugar reduction, failure to which they will start getting taxed as per the amounts of sugar in their drinks.
Cutting 1/5 of sugar in products
Producers will have to come up with means to reduce the amount of sugar in their products by at least twenty percent. The reduction will be gradual, and they are expected to cut at least five percent by the end of 2017, and the rest will follow. Producers must cut their sugar amounts by the year 2020, and this applies to all kinds of products ranging from cereals to pastries to yogurts.
The government will support all those who come up with innovative methods to produce healthy food sustainably. Competitions will get held where the best idea takes home the prize money which can get used in making dreams come true.
Plans are underway to ensure that children get at least half an hour of physical activity in school to maintain their fitness levels and to help them academically. Programs will get designed and sent out to schools throughout the country, and they will get implemented with the help of nurses.
Other measures include coming up with meal plans for schools and ensuring that food items are labeled correctly.
People have their opinions about the plan, some in support while others are unsure whether it is feasible. Jamie Oliver, a celebrity chef, supports the government when it comes to putting restrictions on sugar levels in foods but he feels that most of the plan relies on the willingness of manufacturers to comply with the measures.
Malcolm Clark who works with the Children’s food campaign feels that the plan is too simple and it will do little to secure the health of our young generation. He says that what was to be a strategy a year ago has now become a plan which lacks restrictions on the modes of marketing.
Professor Parveen Kumar expressed her disappointment at the plan, citing that the government failed to put in measures to deal with the promotion of unhealthy foods.
I agree with their sentiments, and I feel that if we are to win this war against obesity indeed, the government needs to do more than just come up with an outlay for the way forward. We need a firm decision, our children deserve firm measures, and it is for this reason that I will not back the plan till they come up with something implementable.