The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has called for the way unhealthy treats are packaged to be redesigned.
The aim is to make the junk food appear less appealing to children.
In their new report ‘Ending the Blame Game’, the IPPR looked to present a case to adopt a new approach to public health.
The report wants to “end the UK’s ‘pro-obesity environment’ by making the healthy choice, the easy choice”. The report proposes “introducing plain packaging for confectionery, crisps and high-sugar drinks.”
Tom Kibasi, IPPR director, believes that if this move was embraced, then it could make a difference.
“Plain packaging would help us all to make better choices and reduce the hassle of pester power for busy parents,” said Kibasi.
The report reads, “This would level the playing field between confectionery products and fruit and vegetables which do not benefit from the same level of branding and product recognition.”
The plan treats confectionery in a similar way to smoking, stating, “This mirrors the action taken against smoking without reducing the availability of confectionery.”
The IPPR report also suggests other ways to tackle the obesity problem in the UK.
One of the other suggestions took aim at the way unhealthy foods are presented in the media.
“We recommend that advertising for fast food, soft drinks, confectionery and other processed food be subjected to a 9pm watershed,” the report stated.
“Advertising in public spaces should be similarly regulated.”
The IPPR also wants to see the sugar tax, which currently only extends to soft drinks, be applied to cakes and confectionery.
Obesity in the UK
According to statistics from the NHS, obesity affects around one in four adults in the UK, and around one in five children aged 10 to 11.
Regarding the proposals from the IPPR, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), Shirley Cramer, said, “With preventable diseases on the rise, and a Spending Review and Prevention Green Paper round the corner, this is a crucial junction for the public’s health.
“The Government should seize this opportunity to lay out a courageous and clear vision for revitalising the public’s health.”
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has taken issue with the proposals from the IPPR.
The FDF state that they feel the methods presented by the IPPR would “have no significant impact on childhood obesity levels.”
They said, “There are already strictly enforced rules in the UK which prohibit advertising of HFSS products to children on TV and in non-broadcast media.”
“There are also additional content rules for HFSS adverts which ban the use of celebrities and licensed characters appear to children.”
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This article originally appeared on our sister site Edinburgh Evening News