National Obesity Awareness Week

This week is National Obesity Awareness Week.

The National Obesity Forum notes that almost 20 per cent of children aged 10 and 11 in the UK are categorised as obese, with only one in five local authorities allocating funding to tackle childhood obesity.

Obviously this isn’t a celebratory week but one to engage with and discuss.

A good place to start is the Government’s Childhood obesity: a plan for action that notes,

Obesity is a complex problem with many drivers, including our behaviour, environment, genetics and culture.

Some celebrity health campaigners say that children should stand at their desks to tackle obesity.

Educate, collaborate, legislate

Jamie Oliver thinks that MPs should be sacked if they don’t agree to combat childhood obesity. He says,

I’m trying to get every CEO and every minister to commit to the 2030 Project, which is to halve childhood obesity in 12 years.

Find out more about Jamie Oliver’s food revolution here.

The Government aims to significantly reduce England’s rate of childhood obesity within the next decade and they are “confident that our approach will reduce childhood obesity while respecting consumer choice, economic realities and, ultimately, our need to eat.”

But rewind to 2001 and the National Audit Office was making the same noises then as those we are hearing now. See their Tackling Obesity in England report here.

The great news is that we haven’t given up talking about obesity and things are happening. Public Health England (PHE) consistently argues for broad, multifaceted approaches to tackling obesity. Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief nutritionist at PHE says,

“We’re working with councils on issues including planning, leisure, and education among others, testing broad policy solutions. We worked with the government to encourage healthier food options on high streets through planning guidance. We also agree physical activity has a role to play in overall health. Our Change4Life campaign encourages children to be more active.”

Dr Tedstone says that the true extent of children’s snacking habits is greater than the odd biscuit or chocolate bar – children are snacking throughout the day.

The Change4Life campaign is aimed at actively engaging parents with children’s snacking choices and to look for ‘100 calorie snacks, two a day max’ to help them purchase healthier snacks than the ones they currently buy.

Each year children are consuming almost 400 biscuits; more than 120 cakes, buns and pastries; around 100 portions of sweets; nearly 70 of both chocolate bars and ice creams; washed down with over 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink.

PHE is working with the food industry to cut 20% of sugar from the products children consume most by 2020, with work to reduce calories due to start in 2018. Only last week, Waitrose decided that it would ban selling high-energy drinks to under 16s.

Show your support for the Change4Life campaign and share it widely. You can sign up and order a free snack pack, with money-off vouchers for healthier snacks.

Whether it’s cooking more healthily, avoiding snacks, or being a little more physically active, join in National Obesity Awareness week.

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