Intended for healthcare professionals


England’s childhood obesity action plan II

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 16 July 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3098


Tackling childhood obesity—evidence, persistence, and political will


We need bold action on childhood obesity

  1. Cécile Knai, associate professor of public health policy1,
  2. Tim Lobstein, policy director2,
  3. Mark Petticrew, professor of public health evaluation1,
  4. Harry Rutter, professor in global public health1 3,
  5. Natalie Savona, research fellow1
  1. 1Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK
  2. 2World Obesity Federation, London, UK
  3. 3Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Bath, UK
  1. cecile.knai{at}

Continued reliance on self regulation is misguided

There is a great deal to support in the recently launched Chapter 2 of the government’s Childhood Obesity: A Plan for Action (COP2).1 The continued backing of the soft drink industry levy is encouraging and is in line with the World Health Organization’s report on fiscal policies for diet and the prevention of non-communicable diseases, which concludes that taxes on sugar sweetened beverages will result in proportional reductions in intake.2 The fact that the government is now exploring the possibility of levying producers of sugary milk drinks if insufficient progress has been made is also welcome.

Another positive aspect of the action plan is the intention to introduce legislation to mandate consistent calorie labelling for the out-of-home sector, such as restaurants, cafes, and takeaways. Nutritional labelling has been shown to drive reformulation (if not changes in consumer behaviour) with reductions in salt, saturated fats, and added sugars.3

We are also encouraged by the action plan’s acknowledgment of Public Health England’s recommendations4 to …

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