RCPCH responds to Health and Social Care Committee report on child obesity

Prevention is key to reducing obesity, says RCPCH's Dr Max Davie, but those already obese must have the appropriate support available.

"The Government must change the narrative around childhood obesity to make it clear that it is everyone's business, says a new report from the Health and Social Care Committee.

The Committee has identified several key areas which demand attention as a matter of urgency by the Government before it published the next chapter of its childhood obesity plan in the summer.

The Committee is calling for an effective childhood obesity plan with a joined up, ‘whole systems’ approach and one which focuses particularly on tackling the ever-widening health inequality due to childhood obesity between the richest and poorest areas. It also calls for a ban of junk food advertising on TV before 9pm and on unhealthy price promotions.

Responding to the report, Dr Max Davie, Officer for Health Promotion for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:

“Just this week, the scale of the country’s obesity problem was propelled back into the spotlight as over 22,500 10 and 11 year-olds are classed as being severely obese, so this report is extremely timely.

"The committee is right: the key to a reduction of obesity is prevention and we must not hang around - action must be taken now.

"Marketing is a significant driver of obesity and we know that it influences what children consume so we strongly support the committee’s calls for a ban on advertising of junk food before 9pm and a ban on brand generated characters or licensed TV and film characters from being used to promote foods high in fat, sugar and salt. However, we know that prevention will not support those children already overweight or obese so it is therefore essential support services are available for these children to be referred to.”

Also commenting on the report, Dr Modi Mwatsama of the Obesity Health Alliance, said:

“This a superb report that reflects what obesity campaigners have long been saying; the UK is in the midst of an obesity epidemic and Government must take strong measures to tackle childhood obesity if we’re to prevent this spiralling beyond control. The ban on junk food advertising prior to the 9pm watershed is a much needed measure, as is toughening up on promotions and the marketing of unhealthy food at children. We hope Government takes note and that these recommendations are reflected in the impending chapter 2 of their obesity plan.”