City leaders to target ‘junk food’ makers

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags New york United kingdom Olympic games Nutrition

Fast food companies are the new bugbear of London’s mayor, who used the launch of a new event comparing childhood obesity in New York and London to pledge action.

The new report, called “A Tale of Two ObesCities”, found that childhood obesity rates are higher in both London and New York than they are in the rest of the UK and the USA.

Almost 23 per cent of London’s four year olds are obese, riding to 36.3 per cent by the age of 11. In New York, the comparative statistic is 40 per cent. In both cities boys were seen to have higher rates of obesity than girls, and children from poorer families were more likely to be obese than those from better off homes.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: “I want to take on the fast food companies who mercilessly lure children into excessive calorie consumption. Instead of junk snacks, let’s encourage kids to grow their own food.”

Johnson said part of his healthy alternatives strategy includes making healthy alternatives more affordable, and improving access to leisure facilities like parks and swimming pools.

He added that a “superb legacy”​ for the London 2012 Olympics would be the obliteration of obesity.


Amongst the sponsors of the Olympics are McDonalds, Cadbury and Coca Cola. This association has been criticised by obesity campaigners. When the first food sponsors were announced in October 2008, Tam Fry, a board-member of medical charity the National Obesity Forum, told he was “disappointed that the London games have gone to Cadbury, because sport and chocolate don’t mix”.

While he added that he has nothing against chocolate per se, and especially dark chocolate, in moderation, he is “most concerned at the message this gives to the young and impressionable”.

“We can’t understand why the government can’t go to other organisations. There must be others that are less contentious.”

“Cadbury and McDonald’s are more likely to do damage or contribute to obesity”.

Grow yer own

Another UK survey, the results of which were made public today, found that many primary school children in the UK counties of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset could not identify the origin of foods they eat.

The survey, commissioned by insurance firm Cornish Mututal, asked kids the where beef burgers came from. Less than one in four recognised that beef comes from cows.

Some said eggs come from sheep, and cheese comes from butterflies; others reckoned crisps are made from plastic or rabbits.

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