Campaigners criticise Lansley’s proposed Change4Life shift

Children’s health campaigners have written to the Health Secretary to oppose moves to hand the Change4Life anti-obesity campaign over to corporate partners including PepsiCo and Nestlé.

The letter has been written by the Children’s Food Campaign and signed by 30 organisations including the Royal College of Physicians and the National Union of Teachers. It expresses concern at comments made by Andrew Lansley, Secretary for Health, over the impact of Jamie Oliver’s school dinner campaign and the overall shift in food policy.

In particular, the letter says that there is alarm over “proposals to make food companies one of the main sources of funding and channels of information for the Change4Life campaign”. Change4Life is currently run by the NHS to provide information about healthier lifestyles.

It says: “There are seemingly never-ending examples of companies marketing fatty, sugary and salty foods directly to children – and to their parents – in a drive to increase their sales and profits. Such inappropriate marketing has been roundly condemned, not least by expert medical and public health organisations. Recent World Health Organisation recommendations on the marketing of foods to children also warn against such conflict of interests.”

With the coalition government saying elsewhere that action needed to be taken to prevent children from excessive commercialisation, the letter urges Lansley to to protect children from “irresponsible marketing” of unhealthy food.

The letter also asks that the government not “introduce any measures that will undermine existing nutritional standards” in school meals.

The Children’s Food Campaign is asking for a meeting with Lansley to discuss the matter further.

Andrew Lansley has said that national health policy needs to be rooted in an evidence-based approach and that individuals should take responsibility for themselves.

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