Burger obesity

There is widespread support for a ban on ’junk’ food advertising on TV before the watershed

Getting children to do more exercise would be the most effective way to tackle the obesity crisis, according to a new poll commissioned by leading health groups.

The new poll by ComRes also showed a third of Brits believe clearer food labelling would be one of the best solutions.

The survey revealed support for a ban on advertising ‘junk’ foods before the watershed and extending the sugar tax to cover products other than soft drinks.

The poll, of more than 2,000 adults, was commissioned by Heart Research UK and the National Obesity Forum as part of the JanUary campaign (formerly National Obesity Awareness Week).

More than a third of respondents (34%) said increasing the mandatory amount of time children spend on physical education in schools would be one of the most effective ways of helping to reduce levels of obesity.

Schools in England are required to include PE within their curricula, but are allowed to set the amount of time they spend on physical activity after a government target of two hours a week was scrapped in 2012.

In the survey, 33% chose clearer labelling as one of their top three solutions.

Meanwhile 24% favoured health-focused supermarket promotions, 23% were in favour of TV ad restrictions before 9pm, and 21% backed reductions in portion sizes.

Just over a fifth (21%) backed banning bogofs and extending the soft drinks levy to slap extra taxes on food high in sugar, salt or fat.

“Ultimately, good habits and good choices are needed to address what is an epidemic. That needs to start in school, as well as in the home, and it’s essential children are encouraged to be physically active,” said Heart Research UK head of lifestyle Barbara Dinsdale.

“But Britons also want to see clear information and to be incentivised to make healthy choices, whether through in-store promotions, smaller portions or better product labelling. There is an opportunity for the food and drink industry to build on the work it’s doing and to help customers make these healthy choices.”

National Obesity Forum spokesman Tam Fry added: “We need to encourage children to be more physically active and less wedded to computers, mobiles and television, We need to ensure children and adults are encouraged to pick healthy foods, and discouraged from those high in sugar, salt and fats.”