Doctors have said the Government risks fuelling the obesity epidemic as welfare cuts will make it harder for the poorest in society to access healthy food.
London doctor Dr Michelle Drage spoke of “row after row” of fried chicken shops in the inner city borough of Tower Hamlets corresponding with a life expectancy 20 years below that of elsewhere in the country.
Dr Luke Boyle told the British Medical Association’s (BMA) annual representatives meeting in Liverpool that obesity is the “health challenge of our generation”.
Proposing a motion for action on the problem, Dr Boyle of the BMA’s Lothian Division, told delegates: “This Government has committed itself to huge welfare cuts and before the election the Tories mused with the idea of withdrawing welfare benefits from obese people who do not engage with services and do not lose weight in the specific time frame.
“We aren’t going to stand for this.
“I have a message for David Cameron, George Osborne, Iain Duncan Smith and the others involved. The way to deal with obesity is to educate people as soon as possible in childhood and enable them to buy healthy food, not make the poorest in our country worst off and force them to live on fish suppers.
“The Government is prepared to take on banks and chase them out of the country, but it’s not prepared to actually deal with the food industry, who could be doing a lot more,” he added.
Dr Boyle said it was estimated that half of British adults are likely to be obese by 2050, at a cost of millions of pounds to the NHS every year.
“We need children and young people protected from persuasive influences,” he said.
“What we should not have is the likes of KFC on our televisions, targeting families, advertising the most fattening food imaginable at times when they know children are going to be watching.”