Laura Sharman 09 September 2020

Watchdog warns progress on childhood obesity is 'slow'

Government efforts to tackle childhood obesity have been slow and uncoordinated, the public spending watchdog has warned today.

In a new report, the National Audit Office (NAO) said the Government has failed to evaluate the success of past strategies despite setting itself a challenging target of halving childhood obesity by 2030.

It also warns that even though children living in deprived areas or from ethnic minorities are far more likely to be obese, many elements of the Childhood Obesity Programme fail to address deprivation.

Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said: 'Progress with the Childhood Obesity Programme has been slow and many commitments are not yet in place. The new strategy announced in July has signalled a greater intention to tackle obesity but the government will need to follow through with more urgency, commitment and cohesion if it is to address this severe risk to people’s health.'

Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, said: 'Councils are already working hard to help their communities live healthier and more active lives, including initiatives such as healthy food schemes in schools and nurseries and specialised weight management services.

'Greater powers for councils are also needed to tackle the clustering of existing takeaways and restricting junk food advertising, alongside extra investment in other council-run programmes such as exercise referral schemes and offering free or reduced-cost sport, if we are to meet the Government’s ambition of halving childhood obesity by 2030.'

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