Government set to miss deadline to combat childhood obesity by 2030, councils warn

"As these stark new projections show, there is still much to do if we are to avoid today’s obese children becoming tomorrow’s obese adults. The Government must work with councils and others to turbo charge the efforts to tackle this ticking health time bomb."


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Around 40 per cent of 10 to 11 year olds will be obese or overweight by 2030 if trends in childhood obesity continued at their current rate, new projections published by the Local Government Association warn today.

Ahead of its Annual Conference in Harrogate next week, the LGA said the stark predictions – which also show that around a quarter of 4 to 5 year old children could be overweight or obese by 2030 - will mean the Government will miss its target to halve childhood obesity by 2030 without further urgent action.

Exclusive analysis by the LGA, who represent councils in England and Wales responsible for public health, has found that:

  • By 2030, 37.5 per cent of 10 to 11 year olds could be overweight or obese, rising to 40.2 per cent by 2040.
  • Children living in areas with the highest levels of deprivation are most at risk, with 44 per cent of 10 to 11 year olds in the most deprived local authority areas in the country predicted to be overweight or obese by 2030 compared to 33 per cent in the least deprived areas.
  • According to current trajectories, no council will halve their childhood obesity prevalence by 2030 if these trends are allowed to continue.

The LGA said its analysis of figures from the National Child Weight Measurement Programme suggests that the Government’s obesity strategy launched in 2019 will fail unless it does more to address this ticking health time-bomb.

The upcoming Health Disparities White Paper is a crucial moment to grasp this issue and address the prevalence of and inequalities of obesity.It needs to include greater powers for councils to tackle the clustering of existing takeaways and restricting junk food advertising, alongside extra investment in other council-run programmes such as weight management schemes and offering free or reduced-cost physical activity programmes.

Councils are calling on the Government to ensure funds raised by the soft drinks industry levy are used to solely tackle childhood obesity, distributed through local authority public health teams who know their communities best.

Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board said:

“As these stark new projections show, there is still much to do if we are to avoid today’s obese children becoming tomorrow’s obese adults. The Government must work with councils and others to turbo charge the efforts to tackle this ticking health time bomb.

“Access to healthy, nutritious food is a huge challenge for families in our most disadvantaged communities, particularly amidst the ongoing rise in the cost-of-living.

“To effectively tackle obesity, councils need funding to provide targeted support to those who need it the most, including the restoration of funding for weight management programmes which was removed this year. Money raised from the soft drinks industry levy should also be reinvested in other council-run programmes, including healthy eating programmes and active play and physical exercise schemes.

“Investment in councils’ public health services now will reap benefits for everyone longer-term and help improve the life chances of the next generation.”

Notes to editors

  • The Local Government Association will host its in-person annual conference between June 28-30 in Harrogate. Speakers will include Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, Shadow Levelling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey and crossbench peer Baroness Lola Young. Please visit our Annual Conference website to view the full programme. To book your place, contact greg.burns@local.gov.uk for a media promotion code to obtain a complimentary pass.
  • The data used to produce these forecasts comes from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), published by NHS Digital. These statistics provide local authority level figures for obesity prevalence on an annual (academic year) basis. The full projections are available at

    Future health challenges: public health projections - childhood obesity.

  • In 2016 the Government launched a new childhood obesity plan, which aimed to halve childhood obesity and reduce the gap in obesity between children from the most and least deprived areas by 2030.
  • The Government estimates that obesity costs the NHS £6.1 billion a year to deal with and costs wider society approximately £27 billion.
  • Obesity is complex and is driven by multiple and interacting behavioural, social and environmental factors. The biggest risk factors include unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, family health and behaviour, access to food outlets and spaces for active play and exercise.