Call for government to urgently tackle childhood obesity

29 February 2016 | News, Health policy

The government’s delay in publishing its childhood obesity strategy will increase the risk to children’s health – that’s the view of the Obesity Health Alliance, of which World Cancer Research Fund is a member.

The campaign group voiced its concerns after the announcement that the strategy will now not be published until the summer, despite the fact that almost a third of children in the UK are overweight.

Amanda McLean, Director of World Cancer Research Fund, said: “Every day without an effective strategy in place means that the obesity crisis is allowed to deepen still further, as opportunities are missed to protect the health and wellbeing of children and their families.

“Given that the Prime Minister has already described childhood obesity figures as ‘disturbing’, it’s vital that he now shows strong leadership. We call on him to take urgent steps to address this epidemic.”

Research suggests that children who are overweight or obese are more likely to be so as adults. Being overweight or obese as an adult increases the risk of at least 10 cancers, including bowel and breast cancer.

In fact, after not smoking, being a healthy weight is the most important thing people can do to reduce their risk of cancer.

Being overweight is also a significant risk factor for a number of other serious health conditions, not only having a devastating impact on the health of the UK but also placing a huge financial burden on the NHS.

The Obesity Health Alliance has set out three key actions that it wants the government to include in its childhood obesity strategy to help people make healthier choices and live healthier lives:

  • a ban on TV adverts for high-fat, high-salt and high-sugar food and drink before the 9pm watershed
  • the introduction of a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks
  • the development of a set of targets for retailers, addressing the salt, sugar and saturated fat levels in their products.
Will Finch | 29 February 2016