The long-awaited childhood obesity strategy has finally been published. But is it really enough to tackle obesity in the UK?
It’s now a plan, rather than strategy, and it’s generally been criticised on all fronts – including from Which?, for failing to sufficiently tackle the seriousness of the problem we face.
Putting it into context – two thirds of the population are overweight or obese, and that also extends to around a third of 10-11 year olds.
We’ve had various strategies and plans from various governments over the years – but we continue to have one of the highest rates of obesity in the world.
Childhood obesity strategy
Obesity affects people’s quality of life, it leads to other health conditions (such as diabetes and cancers) and also has huge implications for the economy and health service.
We know from our research that most people have a pretty good idea what they should be eating. It’s putting it into practice that’s the problem.
There are a wide range of factors that influence our health choices, so it’s fair to say there’s no straightforward solution.
However, the scale of promotions for unhealthy foods repeatedly comes out as an area where people tell us they think action would help.
Whether it’s the balance of healthier price promotions in supermarkets, sweets at checkouts or the foods that are marketed to children through packaging, on-line and a whole host of other techniques – our research shows that the odds are too often loaded towards the unhealthy, rather than the healthy.
So that’s what’s really disturbing about this new plan. There’s no mention of tackling the way that foods are promoted at all.
There will, however, be a focus on trying to reduce sugar in foods that children are most likely to eat through a sugar levy. There’s also targets aimed at lowering sugar levels by 20% – which is good to see, although there are no targets to be set for reducing fat.
Companies are also being asked to innovate to develop healthier foods, the public sector food providers are being asked to offer healthier options and menus will be developed for early years providers.
So lots of requests and reliance on voluntary action. But we are way beyond that point.
We needed decisive Government action to really commit to helping to tackle this problem, but they have side-stepped one of the main areas where action was desperately needed.
Do you think the Government should rethink the childhood obesity strategy?
Yes, it's not good enough (77%, 2,551 Votes)
No, it's not their responsibility (18%, 590 Votes)
Not sure (3%, 113 Votes)
No, I think this will be enough (2%, 63 Votes)
Total Voters: 3,317