William Eichler 18 July 2016

Obesity predicted to have cost councils over half a billion pounds

Tackling obesity is set to have cost councils more than half a billion pounds since taking over public health from the NHS three years ago, the Local Government Association (LGA) says.

The LGA warns local authorities anticipate having spent £505m tackling obesity in adults and children, following the transfer of the public health responsibility in April 2013.

Councils carry out prevention work, such as commissioning weight management services and exercise referral schemes.

In 2013/14 local authorities spent £112m fighting obesity. This rose to £126m in 2014/15, and new figures forecast it will be £127m in 2016/17.

These figures also include the cost of running the Government's National Child Measurement Programme, which calculates a child's BMI when they start and leave primary school.

Recent figures for England in 2014/15 found that one in 10 four and five-year-olds and one in five 10 and 11-year-olds are obese.

The LGA predicts if current trends continue the overall cost to the economy of obesity and overweight conditions could increase from between £6bn and £8bn in 2015 to between £10bn and £12bn in 2030.

‘The staggering amount of money councils are having to plough into obesity prevention work shows the sheer scale of the crisis we face,’ the LGA's Community Wellbeing Portfolio Holder, Cllr Izzi Seccombe, said.

‘Councils are without doubt the best placed to tackle obesity before it becomes a problem, and the huge investment they are making shows how committed they are to dealing with the issue.’

Cllr Seccombe called on Whitehall to guarantee the implementation of a strategy to tackle obesity in young people.

‘We would like assurances from the Government's new administration that the long-awaited childhood obesity strategy is still on track and that it includes tough measures that will help to reverse the rise in costs and children becoming obese,’ she said.

‘Today's obese children will be tomorrow's obese adults, and with this comes a range of costly and debilitating major health conditions.’

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