Measures to cut childhood obesity by 50%, including a blanket ban on junk food marketing to children and a levy on sweets, are widely supported by the public, a new survey suggests.
There is also “overwhelming” public support for an end to promotions encouraging the overconsumption of unhealthy food and drinks like buy-one-get-one-free offers, the study by the Irish Heart Foundation found.
This comes as the national charity launches a plan seeking to halve the childhood obesity rate in the next decade.
“This manifesto has the potential to be a game-changer if people take it at face value,” said Professor Donal O’Shea, the HSE clinical lead on obesity.
Polling carried out by the Irish Heart Foundation found that 71% of the public support a band on the promotion of unhealthy food and drinks to children.
A further 64% support extended the sugar-sweetened drinks tax to other products with a high sugar content.
This support rose to 82% if the proceeds of such a tax are spent on subsidies to make healthy food like fruit and veg cheaper.
Almost 90% of those polled support rules to make manufacturers reduce excessive levels of fat, sugar and salt in products popular with children.
The plan also calls for greater political priority for action on tackling childhood obesity, and for the immediate removal of food industry representatives from national health policy formation.
The Irish Heart Foundation is also calling for the introduction of legislation prohibiting all forms of unhealthy food marketing to children online, as well as a 9pm watershed for all food and beverage advertising.