Sir, As members of the Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of over 30 charities, medical royal colleges and campaign groups, we are calling on David Cameron to leave a meaningful legacy and ensure we are the first country to turn around the rising rate of child obesity. We cannot let current political uncertainty prevent Government from taking decisive action to tackle a problem that Mr Cameron himself has as described as a crisis.
Currently a third of children in their final year of primary school in the UK are overweight or obese, putting them at greater risk of serious life-long adverse physical health conditions in adult life such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer, liver and cardiovascular disease and associated mental health problems. These conditions devastate lives and cost the NHS billions to treat, putting pressure on an already stretched health service.
There must be no further delay in publishing and implementing a comprehensive and bold childhood obesity strategy. To be effective, the strategy must tackle the food environment by introducing ambitious targets to reduce sugar, saturated fat and salt from our food. There must be meaningful sanctions for food companies who do not meet these targets. Children need to be protected from junk food marketing by removing adverts for foods high in fat, sugar and salt from TV. The Government must also fully implement the soft drinks industry levy to reduce children’s consumption of sugary drinks.
For the sake of our of children’s health we must act now to curb the current rising tide of obesity; we simply cannot afford to wait any longer.
Professor Parveen Kumar, board of science chair, British Medical Association
Professor Neena Modi, President of Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Professor Simon Capewell, Vice President Policy, Faculty of Public Health
Dr Rachel Pryke, GP and Clinical Lead for Nutrition and Obesity, Royal College of General Practitioners
Professor John Wass, Special Advisor on obesity to Royal College of Physicians
Alison Cox, Director of Prevention, Cancer Research UK
Dr Simon Festing, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, British Heart Foundation
Helen Dickens, Interim Director of Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes, Diabetes UK
Dr Peter Byrne, Associate Registrar for Public Mental Health, Royal College of Psychiatrists
Modi Mwatsama, Director of Policy and Global Health, UK Health Forum
Malcolm Clarke, Coordinator, Children’s Food Campaign