Child obesity approach "critical" says Cancer Research UK

In collaboration with the Press Association

Developing an effective approach to tackle childhood obesity is "critical" Cancer Research UK has said, in response to a report accusing food firms of "underhand" advertising tactics.

The report from consumer group Which? revealed what it said were the sophisticated techniques used to influence children's eating habits, such as free toys and 'viral' adverts.

These create a 'buzz' around a brand through competitions, e-cards, services and jokes, encouraging children to get involved in spreading the brand's message.

"The techniques used to promote foods high in fat, salt and sugar are very creative, and many of them hold appeal for children," said Jenni MacDougall, health information manager at Cancer Research UK.

"With childhood obesity reaching alarming levels, it is vital that the problem is tackled from all angles.

"After smoking, an unhealthy diet and excess bodyweight are the most important modifiable risk factors for cancer.

"Research tells us that being overweight as a child means you are more likely to be overweight in later life, so it is critical to encourage healthy eating from a young age."