A tax on sugary drinks could be introduced in Jersey, according to a new Food and Nutrition strategy aimed at tackling obesity.
It’s estimated that diet-related illness will cost the island £57m a year by 2025.
The latest figures have found that a third of the island’s 10 and 11-year-olds are overweight or obese.
Adults deemed to have a healthy weight are also now in the minority.
Martin Knight, Director of Public Health Policy, admits that changing behaviours will be a “significant challenge”.
He says the focus is on early intervention – with free school meals a future aim.
“We know providing free access to healthier meals on a regular basis – particularly to children that come from families that might be experiencing more disadvantage – allows that young person, at least 5 days of the week, to be getting a good, healthy, balanced meal and gets them to experience those different things.”
The strategy calls for new planning rules – which would limit and regulate the positioning of fast food restaurants near schools – to be considered.
It also says that Jersey should think about following the UK, where a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks is to be introduced next year.
But the plan is not just to make ‘fatty’ foods more expensive.
Making ‘healthy’ foods cheaper is also a key aim, while a programme enabling pregnant women to access free fruit and vegetables is also being discussed.
Mr Knight says: “We need to try and set really good specific health behaviours in the early years, so that children take these behaviours through with them into adulthood.”