Critical Analysis of The UK Policy on Childhood Obesity

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About this sample


Words: 1221 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2019

Words: 1221|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2019

A policy is a key social factor that keeps the social system stable and running. They are developed by searching for problems with in society and allocating ways to fix them using academic disciplines. Fabians (1884) states that the government are chosen to create and enforce policies as they are believed to handle the situation better than a free market. For instance, the creation of policy about childhood obesity. This has been brought to parliament because of the increasing numbers in childhood obesity. This is shown by the scale of inequality; the height and weight are taken of children in reception and the last year of primary school. The statistics show that one fifth of children are overweight or obese when they begin school. This figure also increases to roughly one third by the time the children leave for secondary school. It has also been suggested that there is a link between childhood obesity and childhood deprivation. Another problem with childhood obesity is that it is costing too much.

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In fact, obesity costs the NHS £5.1 billion every year. Furthermore, obesity is a key rick factor with type two diabetes which costs the NHS £8.8 billion a year (9% of the NHS budget). In despite to this, the UK spends a much lower amount on a variety of programmes that prevent obesity (£638 million). This policy should also be enforced because of an excess of calorie intake with a lack of exercise children receive in todays society. In 2008, 28% of boys and 19% of girls were meeting the government physical activity guidelines. However, in 2012, 21% of boys and only 16% of girls were achieving. With both boys and girls, the percentage dropped in 4 years. Another problematic thing about childhood obesity is that children are eating and drinking excessive amounts of sugar that is advised. SACN suggest that sugar intake should only reach a maximum of 5%, however it is reaching three times this amount. This policy aims to solve these problems through a variety of ways; such as restrictions on promotions, advertising, sugar tax on soft drinks and reformulation of sugar. The public health England suggest that the promotion of unhealthy food and drink should be reduced and if not balanced with healthier products. With the added intention to tackle high salt and fat products. They planned to do this by introducing mandatory controls which will reduce such promotions within retail environments such as, ‘by one get one free’. This will therefore reduce household sugar intake.

The outcomes of this are stated in the house of commons response to childhood obesity report. They suggest that even though the government stated they would apply these mandatory controls they did not follow through and it has not been regulated. So, they suggest that there should be continued monitoring of these promotions. Therefore, retailers have not changed their behaviour with their unhealthy promotions but, further government review suggests that customer behaviour has. Thus, creating a customer demand for healthier products on promotion. For this reason, this is an ineffective component of the policy. One contradiction to this is that some supermarkets are changing their store layout to accommodate to this and promote healthier products and diets. The PHE suggested to create restrictions on advertising unhealthy products to children. There aim was to reduce exposure of marketing by making ‘broader’ rules on advertising. This would include making the restrictions apply to other programmes dispensable to children, such as family tv shows. As well as implementing the restrictions to all media types for example, the cinema. Another approach was the 9pm watershed, this means the unhealthy advertisements would only be shown after this time.

The outcomes show that the government accept the new rules on advertising to children. As a consequence, the UK advertising restrictions for children are the highest in the world for sugar, fat and salt. As suggested in the first report, the government have applied these restrictions across all medias, that a child may observe. Additionally, to all of this, there has been a scale created that measures all food component areas such as; salt, sugar, fat and protein etc. The products place on the scale determines whether it can be advertised to a child audience. These results suggest that this was an effective part of the policy as it has been reinforced and made huge efforts to reduce child obesity. The tax on sugar soft drinks is important as it is proven this is where children receive the most sugar daily. The idea put forward was to increase the price by a minimum of 10% - 20% on higher sugar products. This is in effort to reduce purchases and to adapt the customer attitude towards these products.

Most importantly to change the mind set of parents buying these drinks for their children and raises the issue of sugar intake. Even though tobacco is taxed at roughly 700%, an impact is visible with taxes under 20%. The house of lords commends the government for introducing the levy as well as content with the progress made thus far. But do suggest that monitoring should be enforced to focus on the levies of different sugar rated products. They argue that a failure to do so will minimise the effectiveness of the levy. They also put forward a new idea of suggesting that the sugar tax should not only apply to soft drinks but to milk-based drinks as additional sugar is added. In addition to this they also suggest that the revenue should be put towards disadvantaged children in the form of breakfast clubs. So, the sugar tax is an effective part of this policy as it has been regulated and enforced within retail and restaurants. The PHE supported the introduction of a ‘broad and structured’ programme of eventual sugar reduction in food and drink as well as portion sizing. They suggest that as the salt reformation was a success, the sugar reformation would be as well If they followed the same model. However, there are other ideas to cut down on sugar intake, such as sugar replacements which contrast the salt model. But the sugar replacements can reduce levels of overall sweetness through artificial sweeteners.

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They also suggest a parallel programme of reformation to reduce the calorie content in food. To address the portion size issue, they suggest a cap that relates to the number of calories in that certain product and controlled through monitoring. In conclusion, the realities of policy making is that the public opinion is very crucial, as well as people being in the right position for policy change to occur. In this instance I would state that this policy about childhood obesity is effective even if not all the outcomes were positive at this moment in time. Especially for this policy, it is constantly being updated with new evidence and statistics. The one argument that was raised during this essay was, is it the public opinion causing policy change or is it policy changing public opinion. In all honesty, when looking at the facts of this policy, it is proven to be a bit of both. This is shown through the promotions of unhealthy products (where there is public demand for healthy products) compared to the sugar tax on soft drinks where the policy is adjusting people’s behaviour on the intake of sugar.

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Critical Analysis of the UK Policy on Childhood Obesity. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from
“Critical Analysis of the UK Policy on Childhood Obesity.” GradesFixer, 10 Apr. 2019,
Critical Analysis of the UK Policy on Childhood Obesity. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 12 Jun. 2024].
Critical Analysis of the UK Policy on Childhood Obesity [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 10 [cited 2024 Jun 12]. Available from:
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