Fast food advert at a bus shelter

Childhood obesity

Campaigning to reduce unhealthy food consumption

We're developing a new campaigning and policy influencing partnership, to reduce the amount of unhealthy food children eat.

Key partnership information

Partner: Sustain

Funding amount: Up to £450,000

Duration: December 2019 – December 2022

Programme: childhood obesity

What we’re doing together

We’re joining forces with Sustain for a three-year, multi-project partnership to reduce children’s consumption of unhealthy food and drink in Lambeth and Southwark.

Over the course of the partnership, Sustain will build up an evidence base to identify and prioritise the key national policy calls to tackle childhood obesity. This partnership will help us learn, share and influence decision making at a local and national level.

We have already supported Sustain with Pester Power or Parents Power, a report investigating parents’ views of child-friendly characters on food and drink packaging.

This survey was the first of its kind and has collected the views of a range of parents and carers across the UK regarding the use of child-friendly characters on food and drink packaging. The report demonstrates that there is a clear and overwhelming agreement from parents that the use of cartoon characters on high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) food and drinks must end.

This report is one of several key outputs we will use to help us influence the right people, for the biggest impact.

Findings of Pester Power or Parents Power

68%

of parents thought child-friendly characters on food and drink packaging made it more difficult to feed their children a healthy diet

90%

of parents felt supermarkets have an important role to play by removing unhealthy products designed to appeal to kids at their eye level

Aims of the partnership

Through this partnership we aim to answer the following questions:

  • How can we reduce unhealthy food and drink consumption through a policy approach?
  • What are the options for Local Authorities that could help reduce consumption of unhealthy foods?
  • What realistic and feasible policies should be called for at a national and local level that aren’t currently in place and how should we prioritise these calls?
  • What evidence or testing might be needed to support this and drive them forward?

At the end of the three years, we expect Sustain to have tested, built evidence and campaigned for greater local powers to reduce the consumption of unhealthy products, and help create an environment where there is an even stronger appetite for change.

Connection to our strategy

We’ve learnt that working with existing businesses and within existing policies isn’t enough to close the childhood obesity inequality gap. Beyond scaling-up what we’re already doing in our home, school and street strands, we need to change the current policy constraints that dictate the whole food system.

Though a positive start, campaigns such as the proposed TV ad ban on unhealthy brands aren’t enough to protect children from online marketing and other well-established tactics like the use of kid’s characters on unhealthy products. Our young people are flooded with the least nutritious options and it goes largely unchallenged.

In the meantime, big chains like KFC and McDonalds are planning aggressive expansion plans over the next 10 years in the UK.

We have an opportunity to build on the momentum created by campaigns like the TFL junk food ad ban, which is already making a difference to the types of food young people are exposed to every day.

More about Sustain

Sustain is a national alliance of around 100 non-profits who are focused on advocating for better food and farming in the UK, including our partners the Alexandra Rose Foundation and School Food Matters.

Visit Sustain's site

Have questions about our partnership with Sustain?

Louise Foreman leads our work on campaigning to reduce unhealthy food consumption.

Contact Louise to find out more