/ Food & Drink, Health, Parenting

The Government is in denial about childhood obesity

Sweets and children

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.

Tackling obesity

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

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We owe it to the next generation to feed and take care of our children to preserve the continuation of our species.
I think Khalil Gibran sums it up very appropriately in his famous poem “On the Children.”

Your children are not your children,
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself
They come through you but not from you
And though they are with you,
Yet they belong not to you

You may give them your love but not your thoughts
For they have their own thoughts
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

If interested the last verse can be located @ enotes.com – Khalil Gibran “On the Children”.

Heather says:
22 August 2016

I am 82. My mother told me this and she had it from her mother – it is very beautifully put and we should all become familiar with it.


Some interesting and useful comments above.

It sounds like most of us should eat less and exercise more.

Will “nanny state” be able to help us achieve this, given recent generations of policies designed to ensure cheap food for the masses, as part of a “you’ve never had it so good?” high standard of living?

If we think Governments should do more, how can this best be achieved?

Simone Nelson says:
22 August 2016

I fear until government is not at the behest of the food lobby – they will not succeed in informing the public correctly.

Every week the media comes up with another food devil – how can the average person know how best to feed their children?


Coca Cola (etc) seem a significant factor in the overweight problem. Mexico is apparently the fattest nation, heavily drenched in Coke particularly where there is a lack of local fresh water (according to a tv programme last year). It irked to see the 2012 and 2016 Olympics (all about fitness?) sponsored by Coke to the detriment of other suppliers, and of visitors’ sugar intake.

It may test the accusation of Governments being in the major suppliers’ pockets. Perhaps Which could report on the sugar content of a range of fizzy and “energy” drinks and run a campaign based on those that are unhealthy.

Peter Hamilton says:
23 August 2016

The government and parents can all play their part but ultimately it comes down to profit. The barriers collapsed long ago and we are drenched in fast food and fizzy drinks along every high street. Healthier options are likely to be more expensive and less appealing to most young palates. Companies know they will not sell these products in such great volume and so higher prices are inevitable.
Balance helps and this includes moderating the time the young spend on phones, tablets and PCs when they could be engaging in sport. Again, what can the providers of these services do without detriment to their results?


Forced to watch a couple of adverts last night. One was for Burger King; the man eating the burger was fat. The other was for a room freshener after the husband ate a huge burger; he was fat. A message there somewhere. If we want to see it.

dieseltaylor says:
24 August 2016

Problem sorted
” Participating students were followed over the course of two school years to see if the stand-biased desks had any effect on their weight or academic achievement. At the end of the trial period, the researchers found that students with stand-biased desks had a 3% drop in BMI compared to students who gained the typical 2% in BMI due to aging.

Students who only spent one year with a stand-biased desk also benefitted from the experience, showing a lower mean BMI than students who never used them at all. Researchers attribute these results to encouraging active movement during class time.”