Welsh Government proposes new legislation to help tackle obesity

The Welsh Government has opened consultations on proposals for legislation to reduce obesity in Wales.

The proposals include restrictions on promotions of food and drink that are high in fat, sugar or salt – and on where they can be placed in stores to limit check-out or isle end purchases; mandatory calorie labelling in restaurants and take-away services; limiting take-aways near schools; and banning the sale of energy drinks to under-16s.

These proposals form part of Healthy Weight Healthy Wales, the Welsh Government’s strategy to reduce obesity in Wales. 

Dr David Tuthill, RCPCH Officer for Wales said: 

Childhood obesity is a huge problem in Wales and we fear that over the course of the pandemic things may have got worse. Before the pandemic, 26% of 4-5 year olds were overweight or obese, which was higher than in England or Scotland. We don’t have Wales-wide data since the pandemic because school closures disrupted data gathering, but in the two Health Board areas who did report data, the problem has gotten worse. Consistently we also see how obesity is linked to poverty and inequality. In recent years the gap between children from the most and least deprived areas of Wales has been getting bigger.

It’s really important that we take action to reverse these trends because obesity increases the risk of developing a range of health conditions in childhood and later on when children become adults, including heart disease; stroke; high blood pressure; diabetes and some cancers. Obese children are much more likely to be obese adults so we really need to tackle this issue in childhood and young adulthood.

We’ve welcomed Healthy Weight Healthy Wales and it’s good to see the Welsh Government taking this forward. It’s vital now that the Welsh Government deliver legislation and the wider package of measures we need to tackle obesity.