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Sunday, November 16, 2003

Childhood obesity a "ticking timebomb"
In an interview for last week's Observer, Sir John Krebs the head of the UK goverment's Food Standards Agency (FSA) has warned that the young of today could have shorter lives than their parents because of their poor nutrition + lack of exercise.

Sir John has also called for changes in food marketing and an end to celebrity endorsements of meals and snacks containing high levels of fat, sugar or salt.

According to the FSA options that should be considered by the Government include:

* reducing fat, salt and sugar in children's food;

* restricting the amount of advertising of sweets, crisps and snack foods during children's programmes;

* banning food adverts aimed at pre-school children;

* making 'health warnings' compulsory on some foods;

* banning vending machines from schools which only sell sugar drinks or sweets;

* blocking celebrity endorsement of sweets and promotions which link the buying of sweets and crisps in return for school equipment.

On Tuesday a "salt summit" was held where the FSA was expected to demand action from companies such as Heinz, McDonald's + Bird's Eye.

This demand for action follows FSA research which found that ready meals can contain 98.3% of a whole day's salt quota of 6 grams + recent success with the bread industry which voluntarily reduced salt (sodium) in bread by 21% once it was proved that considerable health benefits could be achieved without sacrificing taste.

Earlier this week celebrity endorsements of junk food were also criticised in an editorial of the medical journal the Lancet + the Observer Food Monthly reported on role that unhealthy+ extra large food portions play in boosting profits + waistlines.