Could carrots be the stick to tackling childhood obesity?
4 July 2016
Research from Royal London suggests a carrot rather than stick approach from government could help drive healthier lifestyles
At the start of National Childhood Obesity week, life insurance provider Royal London has found that those with children in their household expect more health related taxes to be introduced in an effort to tackle the obesity epidemic. Yet these families say they aren’t convinced taxes are the most effective way to encourage healthy lifestyles. Those surveyed say more positive action by government to encourage exercise and healthy eating could make a greater difference.
Just 24% of the 511 respondents polled, who have children in their households, agree that the sugar tax is exactly the type of action that will help tackle the obesity epidemic in the UK. The majority (63%) agree that the introduction of the sugar tax is too little to make a difference. Additionally 64% think it is likely that the Government will consider a tax on other snack foods such as chocolate and crisps to help tackle the obesity epidemic.
When asked about what government could do to best help people live healthier lifestyles, those with children at home felt that there were other ways to nudge people into action. Top of their list (with 17%) was subsidising exercise – including supporting free or cheap access to gyms and sports centres – the second was to make healthy food cheaper (14%), with 1 in 10 respondents saying that better education on how to live more healthily (10%).
Gareth Evans, Head of Corporate Affairs at Royal London, said: “We are at a critical point in the childhood obesity epidemic and policymakers would do well to listen more closely to what families are saying. The tax on fizzy drinks has been welcomed by campaigners, but those with children at home aren’t convinced that introducing this tax is the best route to a healthier lifestyle. Instead of demonising the bad, they suggest government should support the good – by encouraging exercise and healthy eating.”
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Notes to editors:
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2093 adults (weighted to be representative of the UK population), of which 511 have children in the household. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th and- 20th April 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
About Royal London:
Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, with Group funds under management of £87.9 billion. Group businesses provide around 9.1 million policies and employ 3,051 people. (Figures quoted are as at 31 March 2016).