William Eichler 01 September 2016

Obesity crisis puts children at risk of cancer, charity says

Nearly 60,000 children become overweight or obese during primary school increasing the risk of cancer in later life, a charity has warned.

New statistics published by Cancer Research UK revealed every year 57,100 children who start primary school in England at a healthy weight end up obese or overweight by the time they leave.

The charity also said one in five children are already overweight or obese when they start primary school - a figure that rises to one in three by the time they leave.

Cancer Research UK accused the Government of ‘reneging’ on its commitment to publish a robust strategy to tackle the crisis of children’s obesity.

They warned encouraging exercise and a sugar tax alone ‘won’t curb the rise of ill-health which could cost the NHS billions’.

Obesity is the single biggest cause of preventable cancer in the UK after smoking and contributes to 18,100 cases of cancer every year. It is linked to 10 types of cancer including bowel, breast, and pancreatic.

‘The Government has failed children,’ Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention, said.

‘More than 57,000 children will become overweight or obese during primary school each year in England, and the Government had a chance to prevent this.

‘The childhood obesity plan is simply not up to the task of tackling children’s obesity. Instead, the next generation faces a future of ill health, shortened lives, and an overstretched NHS.’

‘It will take more than encouraging exercise and a sugar tax to tackle the obesity epidemic,’ Ms Cox continued.

‘The Government has already recognised the influence of junk food marketing on children’s health by banning junk food advertising during children’s programmes - it’s time to close the loop hole during family viewing time.’

Cancer Research’s warning follows a health select committee report published today which argued Whitehall needed to focus more on prevention and not just on treatment to tackle public health problems.

The committee accused Whitehall of ‘watering down’ its childhood obesity strategy which failed to include curbs on advertising junk food to children.

‘The disappointing watering down of the childhood obesity strategy, published in August, demonstrates the gap in joined-up evidence-based policy to improve health and wellbeing,’ health committee chair, Dr Sarah Wollaston said.

‘Government must match the rhetoric on reducing health inequality with a resolve to take on big industry interests and will need to be prepared to go further if it is serious about achieving its stated aims.’

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