Norfolk council to seek powers to control junk food advertising


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A Norfolk council is set to write to ministers and MPs calling for local authorities to have more powers to control fast food marketing amid concerns over rising obesity levels.

Broadland District Council councillor James Joyce, chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee, will be writing to Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government and Michael Gove, secretary of state for education, among others, calling for a range of measures to combat obesity after figures from Norfolk Insight revealed childhood obesity levels of nearly 70pc in Broadland in 2010/11 and adult obesity of 25pc between 2006 and 2008.

The letters will include pleas for local authorities to have more controls over free schools and academies to prevent them supplying snack vending machines with sugary foods and drinks and to enable councils to have a greater say in the decision making process for approving fast food restaurants in the vicinity of schools and education centres.

There are also calls for free schools and academies to adhere to the same regulations as local education authority schools and for teachers to incorporate healthy eating into the curriculum for cookery lessons.

Margaret Bradley, who represents Sprowston East, told the meeting of the council's overview and scrutiny committee she was concerned schools were not doing enough to combat obesity and she had experienced difficulties with her son's school.

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She added: 'I was quite horrified when my son came home and asked me for money for a snack. I said 'what snacks?' and he said cheese on toast or pizza and I thought 'why are they serving that at 10am?''

When she asked the school's headteacher why these snacks were being served, he replied that all schools had tuck shops as a means of making money.

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She was also concerned about a lack of competition in school sports, adding: 'The schools are not helping. I think we need to get into primary schools and do something about the sports policy. A lot of schools don't help people.'

However, David Ward warned schools needed to be careful about how the 'lose weight' message was delivered.

Letters will also be sent to Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and Vince Cable, secretary of state for business and innovation.

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