Given the UK has one of the highest levels of obesity in Europe, the Government should be doing everything in its power to tackle the problem. Instead it has rowed back on its pledge to protect the next generation by announcing a weak and brief plan to address obesity, rather than the robust strategy it promised.
In Sunderland more than one in five children in Reception class, aged four and five, are overweight or obese. This rises to more than a third by the time they reach Year Six.
Poor diet has become a feature of our children’s lives, with junk food more readily available, and food manufacturers constantly targeting children with their marketing.
It is incredibly disappointing that the Government has ignored the calls of food campaigners and health organisations, including the British Medical Association and the Obesity Health Alliance, and failed to include any plans for tighter controls on marketing and promotion.
Although the Government has proposed targets for food companies to reduce the level of sugar in their products, the fact that these are voluntary, renders them pointless.
Poor diet is responsible for up to 70,000 deaths a year, and has a greater impact on the NHS budget than alcohol consumption, smoking or physical inactivity. The Government must act now to address the obesity epidemic that’s impacting on our children’s health and placing a huge burden on our already overstretched NHS.
Professor Parveen Kumar
Board of science chair
British Medical Association