New obesity strategy could be 'torpedoed' by US trade deal

Monday, 27 July, 2020

Reacting to the government's obesity strategy, published today, Jean Blaylock, trade campaigner at Global Justice Now said: 

"Key elements of the government's obesity strategy, published today, could be torpedoed by trade negotiations with the US. 

"The watershed on junk food advertising to tackle childhood obesity, and the commitment to review labelling, are vital components in establishing a systemic approach to tackling obesity. Yet in recent trade negotiations that the US had with Canada and Mexico, lobbying from the junk food industry threatened similar rules. Draft provisions were included in trade talks that would have blocked standards which Canada was developing to restrict the marketing of unhealthy food and drinks to children and strengthen labelling requirements [1].

"As a result of public outcry, the provisions were dropped from the US, Canada and Mexico trade deal in the end [2]. However it is likely that big business will be trying to use the same playbook again. The National Confectioners Association in the US has already been lobbying on the US-UK deal [3]. 

"Strong standards to protect children's health are crucial for our society. They make it easier for every family to make healthier choices and limit the 'pester power' that comes when children are bombarded with advertising. We need to be on our guard to ensure these standards are not undermined behind closed doors in secret trade talks."


1) IATP, "Junk food, junk provisions" 
2) IATP "New NAFTA limits labeling for food and workplace chemicals", 
3) National Confectioners Association, "NCA priorities for US-UK Trade Agreement",

Photo: Tim Reckmann/Flickr