We have been waiting over a year for the Government to publish its strategy to tackle the national emergency of childhood obesity. This should have been a far-reaching, bold strategy with the future health of children at its heart.
Instead, what we have is an underwhelming plan that puts the emphasis on voluntary action from food manufacturers and schools. Worse still is the removal of any plans to consider how children could be protected from junk food marketing, despite clear evidence this influences their food choices and strong public support for action.
The restated commitment to the soft drinks industry levy and reformulation are positive steps, but the remainder of the plan fails to live up to its ambition.
Obese children are five times more likely to grow into obese adults putting them at great risk of serious health conditions in adult life such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and cancer as well as associated mental health problems.
Children from the most deprived backgrounds are twice as likely to be obese as those from the least deprived backgrounds. But these measures do not reflect Theresa May’s promise to fight against the ‘burning injustices’ of inequalities.
As members of the Obesity Health Alliance, we represent the views of over a million health professionals and public health experts across the UK as well as those affected by obesity-related conditions. We are united in agreeing this plan is not good enough and urge the Government to address these deficits.
Professor Parveen Kumar, board of science chair, British Medical Association
Professor Neena Modi, President of Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Chris Askew, Chief Executive, Diabetes UK
Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director, British Heart Foundation
Professor John Wass, Special Advisor on obesity to Royal College of Physicians
Professor Simon Capewell, Vice President Policy, Faculty of Public Health
George Butterworth, Policy Manager, Cancer Research UK
Modi Mwatsama, Director of Policy and Global Health, UK Health Forum
Malcolm Clark, Coordinator, Children’s Food Campaign
Jenny Rosborough, Campaign Manager, Action on Sugar
Professor Dame Donna Kinnair, Director of Nursing, Policy & Practice, Royal College of Nursing
Pinki Sahota, Chair of The Association for the Study of Obesity
Andrew Langford, Chief Executive, British Liver Trust
Linda Cregan, Chief Executive, Children’s Food Trust
David Haslam, Chair of the National Obesity Forum
Robin Ireland MPH, MFPH, Chief Executive, Health Equalities Group
Dr Paul Jackson, President of the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine