Minister targets junk food

2011-09-13 13:45

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is to target junk food marketing campaigns that were making children fat, according to a report today.

“Our children are bombarded with adverts to eat potato chips, fizzy drinks, sweets and junk food,” he was reported as saying on the Times Live website.

Motsoaledi was speaking at a summit on non-communicable diseases in Johannesburg yesterday, where he said fast-food companies would soon be forbidden from marketing their “unhealthy” products on TV during children’s programmes.

Free toys handed out with fast-food meals might also be prohibited as part of the health department’s plans to regulate the industry. Motsoaledi asked if fruit and vegetables could be made cheaper and junk food more expensive.

According to the Times website about 23% of South African children are obese. This, Motsoaledi said, had disastrous long-term effects on the country’s health and made the “cost of chronic care quite enormous”.

“These people who are selling this junk food are going to find their way into the African market, which is their dumping ground,” he said. Unhealthy trans-fatty acids were regulated, alcohol advertising faced tighter regulation, and the department was looking to restrict the salt content in bread.

The department said 6 500 deaths a year could be prevented by just reducing salt in breads, the Times Live website reported.

On Tuesday, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) advised Motsoaledi to attend to the basics of public health care. “Government should go back to basics by attending to the crises in government hospitals,” UDM secretary-general Bongani Msomi said.

“The minister is tackling sophisticated issues while overlooking what is affecting most South Africans.”Msomi said Motsoaledi had expressed concern over the quality of care in hospitals last year, but nothing appeared to have changed.

“We call for an overhaul in the provincial health departments and for the minister to be hands-on where government hospitals and staff negligence are concerned.”

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