Healthier Food Procurement

A multifaceted approach to tackling this issue appears in all local authorities' health and wellbeing strategies.


Obesity is one of the most important public health issues currently being addressed by this country. It is a cause of chronic disease leading to early death. Two-thirds of English adults, more than one fifth of four to five-year old children and more than a third of 10 to 11-year-olds are obese or overweight.

A study by McKinsey and Company in 2014 estimated that obesity was a greater burden on the UK's economy than armed violence, war and terrorism, costing the country nearly £47 billion a year. The report found that obesity has the second-largest economic impact on the UK behind smoking, generating an annual loss equivalent to 3 per cent of GDP. The country spends about £6 billion a year on the medical costs of conditions related to being overweight or obese and a further £10 billion on diabetes.

Together obesity and diabetes cost as much as the UK's combined budget for the police and fire services, law courts and prisons. If current trends are not reversed, the cost of obesity and overweight conditions could increase from between £6 billion and £8 billion in 2015 to between £10 billion and £12 billion in 2030 (McKinsey, 2014). The need for action at all levels of government and society has been recognised by the newly-announced partnership between Public Health England, the LGA, the Association of Directors of Public Health and Leeds Beckett University to support councils in designing a whole-system approach to reducing obesity. NHS England is also developing a programme of support to councils in developing healthy towns and communities.

These initiatives recognise that local authorities, through a wide range of their functions, are well placed to take action to combat obesity. A multifaceted approach to tackling this issue appears in all local authorities' health and wellbeing strategies. A number of important publications have already drawn attention to the potential for local government to use its powers and influence in a variety of ways to combat obesity.

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Published by:
LGA
Reference code:
1.8