LGA briefing: Childhood Obesity, House of Lords debate, 17 April 2018

Analysis of a recent survey conducted by the LGA among local leaders on public health delivered by their local authority showed that the top priority for public health is to give children and young people the best start in life.


Key messages

  • Analysis of a recent survey conducted by the LGA among local leaders on public health delivered by their local authority showed that the top priority for public health is to give children and young people the best start in life (88 per cent). The health issues that respondents’ councils are most concerned with at the present time are mental health (27 per cent) and obesity in children.
  • Councils take childhood obesity seriously. Today’s obese children will be tomorrow’s obese adults, and with this comes a range of costly and debilitating major health conditions. To tackle this issue, councils across England have adopted a variety of methods to reduce childhood obesity in their areas.
  • Since the responsibility of delivering public health transferred to councils in 2015, local government has spent over £1 billion tackling child and adult obesity, and physical inactivity. Against a backdrop of reductions to the public health budget, councils report a 50 per cent increase in spend between 2013/14 and 2016/17 on childhood obesity, and a 60 per cent increase for childhood physical inactivity in the same period. 
  • Fundamental reforms are needed to tackle childhood obesity. This includes councils having a say in how and where the soft drinks levy is spent, better labelling on food and drink products, and for councils to be given powers to ban junk food advertising near schools.

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