Government delays on obesity message

The Government has delayed an anti-obesity marketing campaign, contributing to the growing sense of chaos in the drive against “junk food” and unhealthy lifestyles.

In February, Caroline Flint, minister of state for public health, promised the Government would launch a marketing programme to tackle poor diet and lack of exercise this autumn. But she has been forced to admit in a written Parliamentary ans-wer that the campaign has been put back by several months.

She wrote to Andrew Lansley, Conservative health spokesman, saying: “The healthy living social marketing programme is expected to be launched at a mass stakeholder event in December 2006 with the public-facing activity aimed for January 2007.”

The campaign is meant to raise awareness of the health risks of obesity and provide the public with the necessary information and support to lead healthier lifestyles, in relation to diet and physical activity. It follows the Choosing Health White Paper, which was released in 2004.

The delay follows a report from the Department of Health last week, which revealed that the UK is now the fattest country in Europe. The Health Profile of England showed adult obesity rates in the country had swelled to 24%, compared to 8% in Italy and 12% in Germany.

It also follows news that leading food advertisers are calling on Ofcom to delay proposing rules on food advertising to children.

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