Intended for healthcare professionals


The childhood obesity strategy

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 25 August 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4613
  1. Cécile Knai, associate professor of public health policy,
  2. Mark Petticrew, professor of public health evaluation,
  3. Nicholas Mays, professor of health policy
  1. Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1H 9SH, UK
  1. Correspondence to: C Knai cecile.knai{at}

Disappointment all round

The UK government’s policy document Childhood Obesity: A Plan for Action presents itself as “the start of a conversation rather than the final word.”1 This will be a relief to many given the criticism it has received for its lack of ambition, including from food retailers and manufacturers.2 3 4 5

The strategy, published on 18 August, includes the previously announced industry levy on soft drinks, which will require companies to pay a charge for drinks with added sugar and total sugar content ≥5 g/100 mL, and a higher charge for the drinks that contain ≥8 g/100 mL. Voluntary reformulation of selected products to remove 20% of sugar and a voluntary healthy rating scheme for primary schools, in which schools will be encouraged to show what progress they are making towards tackling obesity, are also included, along with support for the voluntary food guidelines in early years settings.

The strategy also encourages compliance with the existing school food standards, which aim to ensure that …

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