DIFFICULT PROBLEM: Professor Pinki Sahota - from Leeds Beckett University - says that tackling obesity remains a ‘complex and multifaceted problem’
DIFFICULT PROBLEM: Professor Pinki Sahota – from Leeds Beckett University – says that tackling obesity remains a ‘complex and multifaceted problem’

A 2013 study by the United Nations concluded that the UK obesity rate had trebled in 30 years, making Brits the fattest people in Western Europe.

According to statistics, one in three British children is obese by the time they leave primary school.

This week, the government has published its childhood obesity strategy, designed to tackle obesity and improve the nation’s health.

The plan focuses on encouraging industry leaders to cut the amount of sugar in food and drinks and encouraging primary school children to eat more healthily and stay active.

Part of the strategy states primaries should deliver 30 minutes of ‘moderate to vigorous’ activity for pupils every day through active break times, extra-curricular physical education clubs and active lessons – with parents responsible for providing another daily 30 minutes.

However, the plan has been attacked by health experts, campaigners, MPs and the boss of one of Britain’s biggest supermarkets.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said the government had ‘rowed back’ on promises, and the CEO of Sainsbury’s said the plan did not go far enough.

The plan asks the food and drink industry to cut five per cent of the sugar in products popular with children over the next year.

It says the ultimate target is a 20 per cent sugar cut, with Public Health England monitoring voluntary progress over the next four years.

Pinki Sahota, chair of the Association for the Study of Obesity – and Professor of Nutrition and Childhood Obesity at Leeds Beckett University, added: “I welcome the government’s childhood obesity plan aimed to address this major public health crisis.

“Whilst the actions identified in the plan are relevant, I feel that the plan lacks the ambitious and coherent actions required to support healthier behaviours in the prevention and treatment of child obesity.”

Professor Sahota continued:“The plan lacks bold actions that are needed to reverse the current high levels of child obesity such as e.g. a ban on junk food advertising before the 9.00pm watershed; reduction in portion sizes; reformulation targets for industry that address of high energy density foods; investment to increase and extend evidence-based child weight management services.”

Jamie Oliver has accused Prime Minister Theresa May of failing British children over Government plans to tackle childhood obesity.

The celebrity chef said he was in ‘shock’ over the details of the long-awaited strategy to tackle the problem.

The father-of-five said: “My kids asked me why I was looking grumpy, so I had to explain to them that the Prime Minister had let British children down.

“It could have been one of the most important pieces of work of our time, but instead it was prepared and delivered in the most underhand, insensitive, unstrategic way.

“Everything about it stinks of ‘we don’t care’. We need to face facts: this problem won’t go away unless we face it head on.”