Junk food U-turn risks 'abandoning a generation of young people to poor health'

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By Dev Sharma

This is gutting. I’m a 17-year-old from Leicester and by the looks of things, I could be way into my adult life by the time any action is taken. This U-turn would be a huge betrayal of the promises the Prime Minister made to young people like me.

Let’s be clear about what today’s statement was really about, it was choosing whether or not to protect children’s health. How depressing it is that Boris Johnson has caved in to pressure from big food and MPs rather than listen to the voices of young people who just want their health to be protected.

I feel like I’m being bombarded with junk food ads on my phone and computer, and it’s overwhelming. They are everywhere, popping up when we’re watching videos, when I’m gaming with friends, and we don’t have an escape, especially not at the moment when we are living on our screens.

It’s an overwhelming rising tide of advertising, I and every other young person need support. This policy was going to protect me and was an important step towards a healthier future but that’s what Boris has stopped. He’s let me down.

Over the past year, my friends and I have tirelessly campaigned to get the government to listen to our voices and act. We’ve worked so hard on this for so many years.

We can’t let it get kicked into the long grass and abandon another generation of young people to poor health. Ideology mustn't and can't muddle with facts. It’s time to stand firm. NOW.

This policy is devastating because the health of one in three children is already at risk from the food they eat (one third of 11-year-old children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school).

The announcement stops anything we’re doing to hold food accountable. When will we finally protect children’s health? And with regards to promotions, I don’t understand why our government don’t listen to science.

Junk food promotions don’t protect or save people money. They are bad for your health and your wallet. Anyone who paints a picture otherwise and says it is to protect a cost of living crisis is politicising children and their health. It baffles me. I don’t understand why people won’t hear that.

We’re not giving up, and if Boris thinks we’re going to be quiet, then he’s wrong. We’re not going to be defeated, we’re stronger than this, we’re going to keep calling on this government to protect child’s health.

I’m not going away because every child has a right to their health. My message to Boris is: Are you going to come down on the side of young people and protect us? 

Or are you more concerned about your own political future, and big business profiting from food that harms our health? There’s still time to change the outcome. Please Boris remain steady and strong on your promises to us.

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