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Obesity campaign funding criticised

The decision to allow snack-food companies to help fund a government campaign aimed at fighting obesity has been condemned by a leading medical journal.

The three-year Change4Life campaign aims to reduce the proportion of overweight children to 2000 levels by 2020.

But funding the campaign with money from manufacturers whose products may be contributing to the obesity epidemic has been severely criticised in the Lancet.

The journal said: "It beggars belief that the government has decided to allow sponsorship by commercial companies in the order of £200 million, in addition to £75 million of public funding.

"Companies include PepsiCo and Kelloggs – the makers of the very products that contribute to obesity. Party to this sponsorship arrangement are also supermarkets that display rows upon rows of sugary snacks, cereals and soft drinks."

The editorial concludes: "Nobody doubts that innovative ways are urgently needed to achieve behaviour change at a population level for the prevention of an impending obesity epidemic and its related threats to health.

A Department of Health spokesman defended the decision, saying: "Many organisations have influence with and can reach our target audiences in ways that we cannot. By working with these organisations, we can more effectively tackle the obesity epidemic.

"These companies are not sponsors - they are not giving us money. We are harnessing the power that they have with consumers to promote healthy living.

Copyright © Press Association 2009

The Lancet

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"We are not active in life with sport - most of us go to work and sleep - this is the lifestyle we have in UK, unfortunately, so
if this doesn't change I don't see how these people can be helped." - Mustafa Korkmazcan