Snacking on public transport should be banned, according to the UK’s former Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Professor Dame Sally Davies.
In her final report in post, Davies calls for the prohibition of all ‘eating and drinking on urban public transport’ (with the exception of fresh water, breastfeeding and in cases of medical conditions) in a bid to end the nation’s cultural reliance on snacking between meals.
While the proposal is aimed at kids, the hope is that by applying the ban to adults too, they will set a good example.
Today’s children, says Davies, are ‘drowning in a flood of unhealthy food and drink options’, leading them to consume, on average, three unhealthy snacks and drinks a day. “Running, cycling, swimming and other physical activities, though important, will not solve obesity,” she says, adding that only if policy-makers are prepared to take ‘bold’ action can the Government achieve its goal of halving childhood obesity by 2030.
“We need action across industry and the public sector,” Davies states in the report. “There is no magic bullet, so many actions, each with a small impact, will be necessary to reverse the rise in obesity.”
Legislation and fiscal measures are not always politically popular, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t right
Among other suggestions, Davies’ independent report calls for additional taxes on foods with high fat, salt and sugar content – which she says should be extended to include milk-based drinks. Advertising and takeaways also took a hit, with the former CMO suggesting tighter rules and the ‘phasing out’ of marketing and sponsorship of unhealthy food and drink. The availability of free water refills ‘at all food outlets, transport stations and public sector buildings’ is another recommendation.
Charitable organization Action on Sugar has welcomed the proposal. Katharine Jenner, campaign director, comments: “Professor Davies’ brave call for ‘bold action’ is a beacon of hope and her sound recommendations are precisely what’s required if we are to ever achieve the government’s target to half childhood obesity in ten years.
“Key to this, and outlined in Professor Davies’ report, is the urgent need to take unhealthy food and drink out of the spotlight by restricting promotions and marketing – this simply cannot be achieved without legislation. Legislation and fiscal measures are not always politically popular, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t right; the unprecedented results of the sugary drinks levy speak for themselves.”