In a bid to address high child obesity rates, a new proposal is urging the government to ban all people from eating snacks on trains and buses. But the internet is arguing that this is a step too far.
Wolfing down a Pret croissant on a packed bus while juggling a cup of coffee in the other hand is far from ideal. But, for many people, the commute to and from work is one of the only chances they’ll get to refuel throughout the working day. In fact, you might be doing it right now. That’s why there’s already been a backlash to news of a proposal to ban snacking on public transport.
Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies has delivered a report that calls for a ban on food and drink on local transport with exceptions for water, breast-feeding and medical conditions.
The proposal also recommends extra taxes and tighter restrictions on advertising and takeaways. It’s aim is to tackle the UK’s high child obesity rates.
Specific measures include:
- Phasing out all marketing, advertising and sponsorship of unhealthy food and drink
- Providing free water refills to be available at all food outlets, transport stations and public sector buildings
- Extending the sugar tax to include milk-based drinks
- Adding VAT to unhealthy food products that are currently zero-rated, such as cakes
Although the ban on eating snacks on public transport might seem extreme to many, we can’t deny that obesity needs to be seriously tackled in the UK. The proportion of obese and overweight children has doubled over the past 30 years. And today, around a third are obese or overweight by the age of 11 – with the UK having one of the highest obesity rates among young girls in the world.
Davies says: “The unavoidable fact is that over time our environment has become very unhealthy without us realising. Our children are now suffering from painful, potentially life-limiting disease. Our politicians need to be bold and help everyone embrace healthier life choices.”
But the internet has reacted to parts of the proposal by arguing that many people have to eat while they’re travelling. Some are also saying that snacking isn’t unhealthy.
So, how likely is it that the ban will be put in place, along with the other recommendations?
The government published its last obesity strategy in 2018, with a goal to halve the rate by 2030. None of the headline recommendations made by Davies are part of the current measures. However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that ministers will study the recommendations very “closely”.
Hancock also praised Davies, who released the report before leaving her role. He said she had “done more than anyone to promote the health of the nation” over the past decade.