Plan for ‘fast food’ toys ban, a step closer

LIVERPOOL last night moved a step closer to introducing a unique by-law banning fast food companies from promoting unhealthy meals in the city with toys.

Both Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors agreed to act on the findings of an inquiry earlier this year which accused burger giants such as McDonald’s and Burger King of contributing to the city’s child obesity crisis.

They approved for the council to investigate how specific Liverpool-wide legislation preventing toys being given away with fatty food such as burgers, chips and chicken nuggets could be introduced.

The council also called on the Government to “investigate banning the targeting of children and young people, through the use of toys and promotions, to pressurise them to purchase and consume unhealthy food and drink”.

City leaders hope the idea could have a similar impact to the pioneering Smokefree campaign which eventually led to a nationwide ban on smoking in indoor public places.

Fast food companies have previously defended the distribution of toys, with McDonald’s insisting the fat, salt and sugar content of its Happy Meals has dramatically reduced in recent years.

Cllr Paul Twigger, who headed the council’s child obesity inquiry, said toy giveaways left parents open to “pester power”.

Last night, he said: “This motion is not about instigating a nanny state, it’s about the health and well-being of our children.

“Personally, I think this council needs to stand up and fight for the right of our children to lead healthy lives.

“I am not saying ‘let’s ban happy meals’. I am not saying ‘let’s take away people’s choices’.”

He insisted he just wanted to make food healthier and stop the promotion of unhealthy food.

Cllr Ron Gould, executive member for health, said the council needed to hold a “big debate” about health. He also suggested the introduction of a kite mark for healthy food in restaurants.

Former education leader, Lib-Dem Cllr Paul Clein, said he was unable to fully support the idea.

“I think it’s a little bit of a nanny state issue. I have no problem calling on government to do it. But I can’t support this city council looking to bring in a by-law to legislate into such matters.”

laurasharpe

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