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GP leaders condemn obesity strategy delay

Doctors’ leaders and dozens of other health organisations and charities have all condemned the government’s decision to delay publishing its childhood obesity strategy for England.

Members of the Obesity Health Alliance, a campaigning coalition of 28 national organisations that formed last November to tackle obesity, have raised concerns about the increased risks to children’s health caused by the delay of the strategy.

The government’s strategy has already been delayed for months but the Department of Health confirmed at the weekend that it would now not be published until the summer, after the European referendum.

The Alliance members include the RCGP, BMA, Royal College of Physicians, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK, Faculty of Public Health, National Obesity Forum, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and the Royal Society for Public Health.

Members of the Alliance said that because almost two thirds of adults and around a third of children in the UK were now overweight or obese, every day without an effective strategy in place meant that the “obesity time bomb” was ticking, and that opportunities were being missed to protect the health and wellbeing of children and their families.

The group members said it was vital that the Prime Minister showed strong leadership and called on the government to take urgent steps to address the obesity crisis.

The Alliance has set out three key actions that it wants the government to implement in its strategy as a priority, which are:

  • targets for food manufacturers to reduce the amount of saturated fat, salt and added sugar in their foods
  • meaningful restrictions to reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food and drink marketing
  • a 20% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. More