The Government’s plan to tackle childhood obesity took another step forward at the end of June, with the publication of ‘Chapter 2’.

The report opens:

Childhood obesity is one of the biggest health problems this country faces. Nearly a quarter of
children in England are obese or overweight by the time they start primary school aged five, and
this rises to one third by the time they leave aged 11.
Our childhood obesity rates mean that the UK is now ranked among the worst in Western Europe.

A report published at the same time by Public Health England uses data from the National Childhood Measuring Programme, and shows:

  • More deprived areas have a much higher rate of overweight and obese children, compared to the most well-off areas.
  • This disparity is happening at a faster rate in school leavers in year 6, than in reception age.
  • The figures did however show a downward trend of reception age boys being overweight and obese.
  • When records began in 2006/07, one in 32 primary school leavers were severely obese.
  • Severe obesity is BMI on or above the 99.6th percentile for a child’s age and sex.

The new raft of measures to tackle this include:

  • Banning the sale of sweets and fatty snacks sold at checkouts and as part of supermarket deals.
  • Tighter restrictions on junk food ads on TV and online.
  • Mandatory calorie labelling on restaurant menus.
  • Closing the deprivation gap
  • Introducing a daily ‘active mile’ for children in primary school.
  • Ending the sale of energy drinks containing high levels of caffeine, to children

The Children’s Food Campaign part of Sustain, has been working to raise awareness of these issues, and gives the Government a ‘B’ for this phase of their plan.  It says, “Some key demands, such as addressing the use of children’s cartoon characters on salty, sugary and fatty foods, or curbing sponsorship of sport by junk food brands, were omitted from the plan. There was very little ‘new news’ in relation to school food, and secondary schools have remained out of focus, despite Public Health England data showing a dramatic increase in excess calories in the 11-14 age group, compared to younger children.

You can read their full verdict on the Sustain website.