Time for action
Children are consuming 22 stones of sugar by the age of ten - twice the recommended total. Little wonder 26,000 youngsters were taken to hospital with rotten teeth last year; we have the worst childhood obesity rates in Western Europe; and we are dealing with an explosion in type 2 diabetes-related illnesses which costs the NHS £10 billion a year.
Yet, without political leadership from ministers, Public Health England’s response is an insipid information campaign for parents. It’s ok, but it’s not weighing in against the global sugar giants and food companies who bombard our children with junk food ads online and on TV.
As you know this year I am setting up an independent commission into how we can reverse the rise of diabetes within five years. That means looking at: clearer labelling, taxes on confectionery, bans on the promotion of sugary drinks and foods, and how we can force big business to reformulate sugar in products.
The industry will plead for another bout of voluntary regulation. But it's too late. The doors of that particular last chance saloon have long shut for those who plunder billions in profits by peddling sugar to our children. 2019 must see action not tokenism.
That's why I want to see Fizz Free February rolled-out nationwide. If you, like me, believe we desperately need to tackle the obesity epidemic in this country, then I'd appreciate your support for this brilliant campaign encouraging families to give up sugary, fizzy drinks for the month.
You can help by contacting your council, have a word with the head at your local school, or raise it with any local community groups where you are involved. You can find out more about how you can help here, or simply sign up to support the campaign.