After months of speculation, the Government has launched its updated childhood obesity plan.
The new updated plan includes a bold ambition to halve childhood obesity by 2030. The Government says it will do this in many ways, most importantly through tackling how junk food is marketed at children and families.
Recent research has suggested that as many as one in eight middle-aged adults in the UK now have NASH, the more serious form of fatty liver disease caused by being overweight. Overweight children are 5 times more likely to be overweight as adults. So, cutting childhood obesity could have a big impact on liver disease rates in the future.
After being critical of the original plan (published two years ago), the British Liver Trust joined forces with other health charities to welcome these commitments. The UK has one of the highest proportions of overweight and obese children in the EU with recent figures showing that a quarter of children are obese at the age of 11.
This new phase of the Government’s childhood obesity plan crucially addresses the issue of children being continually exposed to junk food adverts when they watch their favourite TV shows/ during peak family viewing time and when they go online. These proposed measures, along with action on the promotion and placement of unhealthy food and improved labelling, demonstrate that the Government is stepping up to create a more balanced environment that will make it easier for everyone to make healthier choices.
As a member of the Obesity Health Alliance, the Trust urged swift action from across government departments and industry to make these commitments a reality. There is no silver bullet to tackling childhood obesity, and these measures, alongside programmes already underway, must be sustained and built upon over the long-term if we are to see a significant reduction in the number of children with an unhealthy weight.
The Trusts’ Chief Executive co-signed a letter that has been published in the Daily Telegraph:
Stopping child obesity
SIR – Big challenges require bold and brave action, and there is no bigger public health challenge than the increasing number of children who are affected by obesity.
In order to thrive, Britain needs its workforce of the future to be healthy; but, more than that, the Government has a duty to protect children and use all the tools at its disposal to create an environment in which they can grow up free from diseases linked to excess weight.
We agree that this Government should be applauded for its recent update to the childhood obesity plan, and we are particularly pleased to see action to restrict junk-food marketing and promotions that steer us towards unhealthy choices.
Creating a healthy environment requires action on many fronts, and there is lots more to do. We can’t be complacent and we will continue to urge the Government to go faster and further in implementing changes that will protect our children’s health.
Prof Russell Viner
President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Prof John Wass
Special Adviser on Obesity, Royal College of Physicians
Chef and Campaigner
Writer and Broadcaster
Director, Institute of Health Visiting
Director of Prevention, Cancer Research UK
Assistant Director of Campaigns and Mobilisation, Diabetes UK
Dame Parveen Kumar
Board of Science Chair, British Medical Association
Professor Simon Capewell
Faculty of Public Health
Director of Policy and Public Affairs, British Heart Foundation
Deputy Director, Sustain
Dr Modi Mwatsama
Director, Policy and Global Health, UK Health Forum
Chief Executive, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity
Dr Emma Boyland
University of Liverpool
Executive Director, Food Foundation
Chief Executive, British Liver Trust
Dr Liam Brennan
President, Royal College of Anaesthetists
Chief Executive, Royal Society for Public Health Professor
Dean, Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons
Professor Carrie MacEwen
Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
Chief Executive, Children’s Liver Disease Foundation
President, British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society
Chair, British Dental Association
Chief Executive, Association of Director’s of Public Health
Food and Nutrition Lead, Food Active
Caroline Walker Foundation
Chair, Health Action Campaign