What should be done about cheap junk food? The obesity crisis
One large contributing factor to the national obesity crisis in the UK is the affordability of junk food. Simply put, it’s far cheaper to eat unhealthily. In a country with diminished employment and poor wages, surely, cheap junk food is always more attractive than it should be?
The obesity crisis refers to the alarming number of adults and children in the UK who are overweight. Of course, weight problems may not always be the direct result of an unhealthy diet and eating junk food and there are many contributing factors, however we want to discuss how the junk food problem need not have such an impact on the health of our nation. Simply, junk food is very cheap, often cheaper than healthy alternatives, so, how can we blame people for wanting to eat junk food when it’s far more cost effective?
According to a recent report by the BBC, in Wales specifically, cheap junk food is having a huge impact on their own local obesity crisis. Cancer Research UK, a leading cancer research charity have found that in the UK, 86% of respondents in a recent survey believe that offering ‘freebies’ on top of junk food offerings is enough to encourage people to buy junk food.
Take student offers for example, many leading junk food outlets offer a free burger or snack when a meal is purchased, upon receipt of a student card, this alone, seems to be enough to attract people towards less-healthy eating alternatives.
According to the BBC:
“The survey of 1,067 adults in Wales also found 68% of those polled thought temporary price reductions influenced them to buy unhealthy food. The results were published ahead of the Welsh Government launching a three-month consultation into how it should put in place its Healthy Weight, Healthy Wales strategy.”
“According to the charity, 13 types of cancer are linked to obesity and about 1,000 cases of cancer a year are down to being overweight or obese. Obesity in Wales is worse than any other UK nation – 59% of adults are overweight, with 23% classed as obese.”
What about the rest of the UK?
Indeed, this crisis is not just exclusive to Wales, it’s a problem across the entirety of the UK. So, we ask the question, what can be done about it? A clear solution seems to be within the pricing of junk food, should the government be taxing junk food outlets with the view that they in turn will increase their costs? Will increasing the cost at the point of sale, to the customer than go on to encourage them to eat elsewhere and eat something more healthy?
Or, will this in turn just drive down a thriving industry?
Perhaps the solution could be in further education and in making these junk food outlets act more responsibly, in order to try and clean up their food and make it as healthy as it can be?