Health Minister rejects nanny state calls to ban characters
Campaign group Action on Sugar found some products made to appeal to children contained up to four teaspoons of sugar per serving.
It called for a ban on use of cartoons, vibrant colours and familiar characters on products with high or medium levels of sugar, salt and saturated fat.
Kellogg’s Frosties – which uses the smiling image of Tony the Tiger – was among the worst offenders, with 11g sugar per 30g serving.
Malt-O-Meal Marshmallow Mateys – containing colourful shapes and sold in a bright red box – topped the chart at 17g per 42g serving.
But health minister Will Quince said it was up to parents to teach their children about the importance of a healthy diet.
He told Times Radio: “I’m not in favour of those kinds of nanny state interventions because as a parent, it’s my responsibility to educate my child as to what is and isn’t appropriate for daily consumption and as a treat.”
“I like Krave cereal as much as the next person… it’s very nice, but would I have it every day? No, because I know the implications of that. I want to educate my children about that.”
“So what it means is we need to empower people to make healthier life choices.”
Mr Quince said plain packaging was “certainly a step too far” as they were enjoyable when had in moderation, and should be had “every now and then as a treat”.
Action on Sugar is based at Queen Mary University of London and regularly conducts product research.
Its investigation found that 65% of 73 yoghurts and 47% of 133 cereals surveyed contained at least one third of the recommended maximum sugar intake for a child aged between four to six years (19g or five sugar cubes).
Breakfast cereals and yoghurts saw significant reductions in sugar levels between 2015 and 2020, at 14.9% and 13.5% respectively.
But the Sugar Reduction Programme announced in the Government’s 2016 obesity plan set a target of 20%.
Registered Nutritionist Dr Kawther Hashem, campaign lead at Action on Sugar, said: “It’s ludicrous that whilst breakfast cereals and yogurts celebrate the largest reductions in sugars during the Sugar Reduction Programme, those same products with child-appealing packaging still have excessive amounts of sugars, unsuitable for regular intake by children.”
“Given the soaring numbers of under-18s suffering weight-related health problems and tooth decay being the leading cause of child hospitalisation, now is the time for companies to be forced to remove child-appealing packaging from products that are misleading parents and making our children unhealthy and sick.”
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