The only way that anything can be done about it is if the food manufacturers, under pressure from government, incrementally reduce sugar in all products by 40% (especially and most urgently, soft drinks), cease all forms of advertising including sports sponsorship for ‘junk’ foods, reduce portion size and limit the availability of these foods. Meanwhile, the government needs to introduce a sugar tax and, essential for all of this to happen, both scrap the current ridiculous ‘Responsibility deal’ in which the food industry ‘polices’ itself – and remove responsibility for nutrition from the Department of Health and return it to an independent agency such as the Food Standards Agency.
Somewhat more nuanced, but no less persuasive, arguments in favour of government intervention were also made by Professor Simon Capewell, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at Liverpool University. Even though, in the current political climate, government intervention is seen as intrusive ‘nannying’, looking back over the last 200 years, it is clear that government intervention has been crucial in all the major improvements in population health and well being: the provision of safe drinking water, sanitation, clean air, tobacco control – even the abolition of slavery. Advice, public health leaflets, ‘nudging’ simply does not work – regulation does.