The British government is to address the thorny issues of food advertising and labelling in a white paper on public health.

Health secretary John Reid has told NHS chief executives the government is determined to improve the nation's health -- and in particular tackle soaring child obesity levels. It will release the white paper setting out its proposals in the summer.

Ministers are considering a number of options including a ban on food and soft drink advertising during kids TV, though Reid ruled out extreme measures such as preventing the overweight from using health services. He insisted the government could not force the public to be fit.

Culture, media and sport secretary Tessa Jowell has in the past hinted at tougher ad regulations, but last month opined that an outright ban would have "no significant impact" on obesity levels [WAMN: 15-Jan-04]. Jowell's department reportedly believes that the biggest problem is declining levels of exercise among children.

Other issues the white paper will look at include local bans on smoking in public places and ways to curb rising alcoholism.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff