22,000 children severely obese when they leave primary school

The number of 10 and 11-year-old children classed as severely obese - the most overweight scale - in the final year of primary school is nearly double that of those in reception, new analysis by the Local Government Association (LGA) reveals today (Tuesday 29 May 2018).

Despite budget reductions, councils are spending more on running effective prevention schemes to help children stay healthy, which is key to tackling the child obesity crisis and reducing future costs to hospital, health and social care services.

But this essential prevention work, including the ability of councils to provide weight management services for children and adults, is being hampered by a £600 million reduction in councils’ public health budgets by central government between 2015/16 and 2019/20.

The LGA is calling for reductions in public health grants to be reversed by the Government and for further reforms 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.

Rob Percival, Food for Life Policy and Campaigns Manager commented: “It’s nonsensical that the Government is raiding public health budgets, even as it gears up to launch a new chapter of the Obesity Plan. These cuts threaten to undermine school food programmes like Food for Life that are proven to improve children’s diets – children in Food for Life schools are twice as likely to eat their five-a-day compared to children in comparison schools. Councils must be properly funded to deliver public health services if we’re to avoid an avalanche of child obesity that will bury the NHS. In the end, prevention pays.”

At Food for Life, we believe that every child has the right to enjoy healthy, tasty and sustainable food, to learn about where the ingredients come from, how they are grown and cooked, and to understand the importance of well-sourced produce. Independent evaluation of our programme demonstrates our programme makes a positive contribution to pupil health and wellbeing with Pupils in Food for Life schools proven eat around a third more fruit and vegetables than pupils in comparison schools, and significantly more fruit and vegetables at home.

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