The Government’s £75m campaign Change4Life will fail to stop rising levels of obesity unless it commits to a strategy to change long-term behaviour, the outgoing UK Public Health Association chairman Professor David Hunter has warned.
Professor Hunter, also head of Durham University public policy and health centre, made his criticism following last week’s unveiling of the fourth television ad targeting parents.
He says the Department of Health must ensure Change4life isn’t a waste of money and effort by using continued evaluation across the three-year campaign to see what activity needs to be sustained to deliver long-term behavioural change.
“The evidence overall is that this type of national public health campaign can have a short-term positive impact but it’s not sustainable,” he says.
“Once the initial ‘wow factor’ has died away, people tend to revert to their original behaviour,” he adds.
However, the DoH says it is confident its strategy has the backing of health professionals and points to the positive reactions of the academics who peer reviewed the strategy ahead of its launch.
Meanwhile DoH communications director general Sian Jarvis told Marketing Week that rules on the use of sub-brands, such as Play4Life and Breakfast4Life, would be debated at a meeting with “stakeholders” on Thursday (30 April).
So far 76 companies including Britvic, Cadbury and Kellogg have signed-up as commercial partners to help promote Change4life.
However, some promotional activity has stalled over health organisations’ concerns regarding companies’ use of sub-brands on food packs in case it is seen as a health mark. The Change4Life umbrella brand is not allowed to be used by partners on products in order that people are not misled. Jarvis says guidance on sub-brand use will be published shortly.