Bow Group responds to the Children's Food Campaign Criticism of Change4Life

Health
Thursday, September 1, 2011

On 31st August 2011 the Guardian published an article Obesity plan could cost shoppers dear which featured criticism from the Children’s Food Campaign about the Government’s Change4Life voucher initiative.  The Change4Life voucher scheme aims to make a healthy lifestyle more accessible to those in the most deprived areas by offering discounts on a range of foods and activities.  There are a broad spectrum of partners involved in the scheme, including media owners, charities, retailers, food manufacturers, physical activity providers, and employers.  While there have been some concerns about private companies becoming involved in public health policy, the Bow Group’s recently published paper on obesity concluded that the voucher is a great example of how the general public can be given better information to support their choices in a less prescriptive manner. More generally, the Bow Group report found that Change4Life had been successful in galvanising departments across Government to work closer together to tackle the critical problem of obesity. Dr. Thomas Kelley of the Bow Group’s Health & Education Policy Committee, said:   “In order to tackle the obesity epidemic facing Britain, it is clear we must empower individuals to be able to take part in sport and to buy healthy food. If we are to achieve behavioural change on a scale not witnessed before, we need support from the wider community including the commercial sector”. Stuart Carroll, Chairman of the Bow Group’s Health & Education Policy Committee, added:  “The Change4Life voucher scheme aims to make a healthy lifestyle more accessible to those from disadvantaged backgrounds by offering price reduction to healthier products.  Whilst we recognise concerns from the Children’s Food Campaign about the fact that the discount only make up a proportion of the total cost, we feel that this initiative is crucial and is most certainly not just a marketing opportunity for the various organisations involved. “We strongly support the Government’s vision for Change4Life to become more of a societal movement with support from many different organisations across society and would warn against the alternative which would see such organisations isolated from tackling this very serious public health issue” For more information on the Bow Group Health & Education Policy Committee, please contact Stuart Carroll on health.policy@thebowgroup.org.