Legal measures needed to challenge childhood obesity

The UK is suffering an obesity epidemic and must impose legal measures to tackle it, doctors believe.

Advertising junk food to children should be banned and levels of salt, sugar and hydrogenated fats in food cut, according to a motion backed at the BMA's 2007 annual representative meeting.

Doctors also voted for a halt to the sale of school playgrounds and sports fields.

South Birmingham PCT director of public health Dr Chris Spencer Jones said the levels of salt, sugar and fats in some foods were harmful and unnecessary in the diet.

'We in public health need to get to grips with the obesity epidemic and these motions will help us,' he said.

Doctors rejected a call for obesity in under-12s to be considered parental neglect, however.

GPC negotiator Dr Laurence Buckman said the idea was 'mad'.

'How will turning the parents of the obese into pariahs and taking their children into care help fat children get thin?' he asked.

'Overweight people need education, advice and encouragement - how will parents get advice if they fear their children will be whipped away from them?'

nick.bostock@haymarket.com

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