I'm proud to give my backing to a hard-hitting new campaign from Cancer Research UK to remove junk food advertising from TV before the 9pm watershed.
On Tuesday this week (5th January) I joined campaigners in Westminster to find out more about the ‘Junk Free TV’ campaign, which aims to help tackle children’s obesity.
I was shocked to learn that in the North West more than one in five (22.9%) children are overweight or obese. People who are obese as children are more likely to be obese as adults which increases their risk of developing cancer.
Obesity is the biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking and is linked to ten different types including two of the most common cancers, breast and bowel and two of the hardest to treat, oesophageal and pancreatic. Cancer Research UK is campaigning for a comprehensive childhood obesity strategy from Government to help protect children and save more lives in the future.
Research shows children who see junk food advertised on TV eat more unhealthy food. While such ads have already been removed during children’s TV shows, young viewers are regularly exposed to alluring marketing during other programming, such as family entertainment.
As well as calling for the removal of junk food advertising on TV before the 9pm watershed, Cancer Research UK wants to see the promised tax on sugary drinks brought into effect and the introduction of Government-led targets for reducing the amount of fat and sugar in food.
In the words of Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s Director of Cancer Prevention: “Junk food is everywhere. Children are bombarded by advertising tailored to tempt them with pretty colours and cartoons which all influence the food they prefer. We need stronger action to help our children have healthier diets, and eat fewer unhealthy foods packed with extra calories. Being overweight and obese is a major cause of preventable illness and death in the UK, costing the NHS billions of pounds each year. We owe it to future generations to reduce the devastating impact caused by the obesity epidemic and help save more lives.”
With stark levels of childhood obesity in Greater Manchester and across the UK, it’s clear we need to act now to help give children the best chance of a healthy future. It’s vital that young people are encouraged to eat healthily and keep active and that healthy choices are easy to make.
I wholeheartedly support Cancer Research UK’s efforts to reduce the insidious influence of TV junk food advertising on children’s lives.