Could a ban on super-size fizzy drinks make a difference? Join the public health debate

5 Feb 2013 11:17 AM
Regulating fizzy drink and portion sizes could have a real impact in tackling Wales’s rising obesity rates, the country’s top doctor said yesterday.

Dr Ruth Hussey, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, also said requiring restaurants, cafes and takeaways to detail calorie counts on menus could help tackle the issue.

The Welsh Government is asking whether new legislation should be introduced to address the big health challenges facing Wales, such as obesity, higsh rates of smoking and alcohol consumption and low levels of exercise. It also wants to ensure that the health gap between those who are well off and not so well off is closed.

According to figures from the latest Welsh Health Survey, over half of adults and 35% of all children are overweight or obese.

Dr Hussey said the problem extended much further than just looking at particular types of junk food and that the dietary choices that children and adults make are complex.

Dr Hussey said:

“We know that the ability to feed a family is driven by the price and availability of food and we know that many of the products high in sugar and salt are the cheaper products. There is no quick way in which we can turn that around but we do need to raise awareness of this and find alternative approaches.

“Whilst I would hope any health improvements could be made voluntarily the law has a role in influencing the choices that we are making. I think the Public Health (Wales) Bill is an opportunity to look at how we can do this.

“Obesity leads to serious health problems, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure.  

“We need to look at ways in which we can prevent obesity reaching epidemic proportions in Wales.

“We are actively encouraging debate around health legislation as part of the current Public Health Green Paper Big Health Debate.”

The Welsh Government’s consultation on whether new laws to improve the health of the nation should be introduced closes this month.

Any proposed legislation would have to be considered against whether the National Assembly for Wales had competence to pass such laws, and whether it complied with human rights legislation or EU laws.  

Two events are taking place. On Thursday 7 February between 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm at the Welsh Government Offices, Sarn Mynach, Llandudno Junction, Conwy LL31 9RZ

On Wednesday 13 February between 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm at the Temple of Peace and Health, Cathays Park Cardiff CF10 3AP

For more information and to book a place call: 029 20694 900

Related Links

Consultation to collect views about whether a Public Health Bill is needed in Wales