Clinicians underwhelmed by “watered down” childhood obesity strategy

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 22 August 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4576
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. London

The government’s long awaited childhood obesity plan for England has been roundly criticised as weak, disappointing, watered down, and underwhelming by doctors’ leaders, dentists, local government, national charities, and campaign groups.

The Department of Health described its strategy,1 published on 18 August, as a “far reaching” plan to curb childhood obesity by urging industry to cut the amount of sugar in food and drinks and investing millions of pounds in school sport.

Nearly a third of children aged 2 to 15 are considered to be overweight or obese, making them more likely to have health problems later in life.

The document said that the NHS in England spent around £5.1 billion (€5.9bn; $6.7bn) on overweight and obesity related ill health in 2014-15.

Under the obesity plan, the food and drinks industry will be encouraged to work towards a 20% reduction in the sugar used in products popular with children—including a 5% reduction in year one—achieved through cutting sugar levels, making portions smaller, or encouraging the uptake of lower sugar alternatives.

Progress made by the industry will be reviewed by Public Health England who will publish updates every six months.

There will also be a new soft …

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