CCH among experts on the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan
The Government’s long-awaited plan to reduce the staggeringly high levels of children’s obesity across the UK was published, following a number of delays, in August 2016. Many felt that the 13-page plan had been significantly watered down and lacked substance. It was also felt that by publishing the plan during the government’s summer recess that it would escape the attention of the media but given the importance of the childhood obesity plan its lack of substance drew widespread criticism and scrutiny.
On Monday 17 October the All Party Parliamentary Group for Adult and Childhood Obesity held a meeting, chaired by Maggie Throup MP, to discuss the Childhood Obesity Plan. CCH was delighted to attend this meeting and hear the views of experts on the matter.
- Professor Susan Jebb, Professor of Diet and Population Health at Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford
- Alison Cox, Director of Prevention at Cancer Research UK
- Malcolm Clark, Co-ordinator at the Children’s Food Campaign
- Professor Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Professor of Neonatal Medicine at Imperial College London
All of the experts agreed that the published plan was disappointing and that there were glaring omissions.
Professor Susan Jebb opened the discussion by mentioning that the biggest strength of the Childhood Obesity Plan was that it has put the matter of obesity back on the agenda. She then went on to discuss the shortcomings of the plan. The main one being the lack of an advertising ban. Furthermore, Professor Jebb insisted that in tackling this problem we cannot only focus on children, but we also need to focus on treatment for all generations just as much as we need to focus on prevention.
Malcolm Clark continued the conversation and discussed how the common agricultural policy needs to be reviewed, with giving farmers incentives making healthier products less costly and more achievable. He also mentioned that the school food plan should be reviewed.
Professor Neena Modi was pleased to see that the soft drinks levy was announced and that the plan discussed physical activity. On the other hand, she was extremely disappointed that there was no mention of the WHO’s report on Ending Childhood Obesity, which was published earlier this year. Professor Modi believes that the UK has missed an excellent opportunity by not referencing this well-evidenced document with excellent recommendations especially after the WHO’s request for member states to specify how they would implement it. Finally, she discussed how she believed prevention to be the key to tackling obesity and that this can be done by focusing on the transgenerational effects of obesity, particularly during pregnancy.
The final speaker, Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention, agreed with all of the comments that had been made already and went on to discuss the link between obesity and cancer and how obesity is the biggest single preventable cause of cancer after smoking. She re-iterated the importance of an advertising ban before 21:00.
John McNally MP closed the meeting by saying:
An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
These are the thoughts of the experts, but we want to hear your thoughts! What do you think is lacking from the plan? CCH will collate your thoughts and present them to Maggie Throup at the next APPG meeting on 14 November, where Nicola Blackwood MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State is invited. This is a unique opportunity to have your say on obesity. To have your thoughts included simply type them in the comments box below.