Cancer Research UK has signed up to the Responsibility Deal announced by health secretary Andrew Lansley today. But the charity has warned that more still needs to be done to promote healthy behaviour and reduce cancer risk.
“We are signing up to the responsibility deal. Up to half of all cases of cancer are potentially preventable so we support ways to improve public understanding of how healthy lifestyles help to reduce the risk of cancer,” commented Aisling Burnand, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy and public affairs.
“But Cancer Research UK is concerned that the alcohol pledges – as they stand – do not go far enough in promoting healthy behaviour. We strongly urge the government to strengthen its commitment in this area.”
It is hoped that by working with partners in the business, voluntary, retail and industry sectors, the government can achieve public health objectives more quickly and effectively than through legislation.
To this end, the government has extracted six key collective pledges from companies including ASDA, McDonalds and Diageo which form the cornerstone of the Responsibility Deal.
As well as an alcohol unit labelling measure, these include a commitment to display calories on menus by September; to reduce the salt content of foods so that people eat less than one gram a day by the end of 2012, and remove trans-fats – ‘unhealthy’ fats – from foods by the end of the year.
Efforts will also be made to boost physical activity through the workplace and improve workplace health.
According to Mr Lansley, this could not have been achieved so quickly through a legislative approach.
“Public health is everyone’s responsibility and there is a role for all of us, working in partnership, to tackle these challenges,” he commented.
“We know that regulation is costly, can take years and is often only determined at an EU-wide level anyway. That’s why we have to introduce new ways of achieving better results.”