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Obesity crisis: Boris Johnson must remember more nannying is a bad solution

Date

30 Jun 2020

Sections

InfoSociety

London, UK - Yesterday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted that more was needed to be done to crack down on obesity, and claimed doing so would help the UK fight diseases like coronavirus. Appearing on Times Radio, Mr. Johnson claimed he had changed his mind on whether the Government should intervene to get people fit. He is expected to outline his plans in the next weeks.

In response, the Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group, published a policy note to highlight the dangers of nannying, in particular, those of sugar taxes and to provide the UK government with a menu of ways to address obesity.

“It is without a doubt that obesity is a pressing issue in the UK, and it is also clear that something has to be done about it. Nannying consumers through taxation hasn’t proved to be effective so far, and the situation only got worse during the lockdown,” said Maria Chaplia, European Affairs Associate at the Consumer Choice Center and the author of the policy note.

“The existing sugar tax disproportionately affects low-income households. The cost of living in the UK is already high, and sugar taxes contribute to the pressure instead of easing it. Interventionism is expensive, short-sighted and ignores the complexity of the consumer decision-making process, our policy note finds.

“Sugar taxes or plain packaging initiatives reduce the issue of obesity only to sugar consumption while obesity is also a matter of physical inactivity. Levels of physical activity have dropped by a quarter since 1961, according to Public Health England. Walking activity among Britons fell from 255 miles per year in 1976 to 179 miles in 2010.  Daily calorie intake in the UK is also decreasing each decade. It is exercise that many people are lacking, and we should educate consumers about this fact,” said Chaplia.

“A substantial societal change - lowering obesity rates - can only be achieved through a partnership between government and other actors such as business, civil society organisations and advocacy groups, and education systems. Education and innovation are a smarter way forward, and one we would recommend,” concluded Chaplia.

You can read the policy note here

***CCC European Affairs Associate Maria Chaplia is available to speak with accredited media on consumer regulations and consumer choice issues. Please send media inquiries HERE.*** 

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The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

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