Page last updated at 01:10 GMT, Thursday, 24 July 2008 02:10 UK

Snack firms pledge obesity fight

Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson has been speaking at the Fabian Society

More than 200m has been pledged by several food and drinks companies, including Coca-Cola, Kellogg's, Mars and Nestle, in a bid to tackle obesity.

The funding comes amid a plea by the Health Secretary Alan Johnson for help with the growing problem.

A consortium of firms, headed by the Advertising Association, has offered air space, on-pack messages and cash.

The Department of Health said the companies and coalitions would have to sign up to a set of standards.

Specific details of the government-led campaign, called Change4Life, which will launch in the autumn, will be devised over the next few months.

The aim of the package is to encourage people to eat healthily and exercise in the build up to the London 2012 Olympics.

Local activists

Mr Johnson has made a speech to the Fabian Society in which he said a "national movement for change" is what is needed to tackle Britain's growing problems with obesity.

He called on everyone, from individuals to the chiefs of major supermarkets, to help people lead healthier lives.

Mr Johnson has also written to 220,000 community activists to ask them to join up with the campaign.

The Advertising Association said the industry contribution is worth more than 200m over four years.

Chief executive Baroness Peta Buscombe said: "Business is part of the solution to tackling obesity in the UK.

"Obesity is one of the biggest health threats facing Britain today. Through this coalition, we are all making a strong statement that we are committed to working with government and the voluntary sector to transform the health of the nation and be a force for good."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "We welcome everyone and anyone if they want to join the movement, as long as they sign up to the conditions for using the brand and the health messages that the Department of Health has developed and owns."

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