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Chief medical officer calls for greater regulation to tackle childhood obesity.

England’s outgoing chief medical officer, Dame Professor Sally Davies, has published an independent report calling on the government to introduce different VAT rates for unhealthy foods in order as a means of tackling childhood obesity.

The report advocates a tiered VAT rate for different food categories, where particularly high rates for the unhealthiest items would be used to fund subsidies for fresh fruit and vegetables. It also expressed support for increased regulation of activities through which food can be marketed to children, citing the presence of unhealthy food at shop checkouts, the concentration of fast-food restaurants near schools and the use of cartoon characters and athletic sponsorships to support child-directed marketing campaigns as areas in which the government should take a more prominent role in restricting food companies’ behaviour.

The report comes amid increasing public support for health-friendly regulation of the food and drink industry as well as several recent regulatory measures designed to promote children’s health, including a tax on high sugar drinks and a ban on adverts for unhealthy food in children’s media.

Read the full report here.

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