86% of public say childhood obesity is a ‘serious problem’ as leading health campaigners warn faster progress is needed to protect children from health risks of obesity

One year on from the publication of the Government’s landmark childhood obesity plan: chapter 2, health campaigners have issued a scorecard to assess the progress, with the majority of vital policies stalled at the amber lights.

Childhood obesity continues to be a key priority for the public. ComRes polling data among 2,058 adults in Great Britain shows:

  • 69% agree the new Prime Minister should continue to prioritise reducing childhood obesity
  • 86% agree childhood obesity is a serious problem
  • 76% say they are supportive of government action to reduce levels of childhood obesity
  • 80% say they are worried about the impact of obesity on NHS resources

The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA), which is made up of over 40 leading health charities, medical royal colleges and campaign groups recognise the work that been done by the Government in the last year, despite a complex political environment. But they warn that faster progress is needed in order to have any chance of meeting the Government’s target of halving childhood obesity by 2030.

The Government has held 12 week consultations on banning the sale of energy drinks to children, mandatory calorie labelling in the out of home sector, restricting unhealthy food promotions and introducing a 9pm watershed on unhealthy adverts on TV and online. The first two consultations were closed by December – but seven months on, nothing further has been heard. In addition, the Government missed their own deadline to launch their promotions and marketing consultations before the end of the 2018, meaning progress has been pushed back several months.

Caroline Cerny, Alliance Lead at the Obesity Health Alliance said:

“A year ago the Government showed bold ambition, announcing a raft of evidence-based measures with the potential to dramatically improve child health. But twelve months on, progress seems to have stalled.

“There is a danger that a new Prime Minister might take us in a different direction, but the public have spoken loud and clear – and a leader who can get us to the destination quicker is going to win favour with voters. The Government now needs to get on and make sure child-friendly policies such as a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts on TV and online are brought in as quickly and effectively as possible.”

“The clock is ticking to the Government’s deadline to halve childhood obesity. The 11 year olds we will measure in 2030 are being born this year. We owe them the best chance of growing up healthy, and delays in bringing in effective policies mean more children are at risk of suffering ill-health linked to excess weight.”

Progress against Government commitments made in chapter 1 of the childhood obesity plan (published in August 2016) is also a mixed bag. While the soft drinks levy has seen major success in reducing sugar from soft drinks, the promised updated school food standards and healthy ratings scheme for school have not yet been bought in.


ComRes interviewed 2,058 adults in Great Britain aged 18+ online between 19th and 20th June 2019.  Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all adults in Great Britain by key demographics, including age, gender, region and social grade.

For further comment from the Obesity Health Alliance, please contact:

Melissa.milner@rcpch.ac.uk / 020 7092 6065


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