New report calls for more action on childhood obesity ‘deprivation gap’

A new report from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity argues that framing obesity as an issue of individual willpower overlooks the overwhelming evidence from behavioural science on how environments – both social and physical – influence people’s decision making.

Bite Size: Breaking down the challenge of inner-city childhood obesity takes a detailed look at the evidence on how the ‘obesogenic’ inner-city environment is increasingly bombarding people with an overwhelming amount of opportunities to eat high energy food, therefore promoting unhealthy choices.

Experts including Shirley Cramer from the Royal Society for Public Health and Jamie Oliver, have contributed to the report, which highlights that:

  • childhood obesity is a problem of inequality
  • poor decisions are exacerbated by deprivation
  • solutions don’t have to be complicated, but they do take time
  • we have a collective responsibility to take action.

Professor Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:

'The link between poverty and obesity is well documented. It is also well known that the environment in which children are being brought up in the UK today is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Fast food outlets near schools, constant advertising of unhealthy products, promotions on junk food in supermarkets and urban planning, that make it difficult to play, walk or cycle to school, combine in a destructive alliance. Four out of five obese children will remain obese as they grow older, leading them to lose many years of healthy adult life and shortening their lifespans.

We are delighted that yet another charity is helping draw attention to the change we need. It is an absolute necessity for the UK Government to deliver on a children’s obesity strategy that addresses these issues in an integrated effective approach. We reiterate our call for the UK to implement the excellent recommendations in the 2017 World Health Organisation report Ending Childhood Obesity.'