Clinicans have teamed up to wage war on Britain’s obesity crisis – describing it as the “single greatest public health threat”.
In an unprecedented move, the Academy of Medical Colleges (AoMRC) and Faculties, representing 21 organisations and some 200,000 doctors, has launched a campaign to provide a “coherent approach” to reducing obesity levels.
The campaign – which will begin with a three-month research phase – will look at introducing changes to the way food is advertised, sponsored and labelled as well as the possibility of ‘fat taxes’ and minimum pricing.
The UK now has the highest rate of obesity in Europe with one in three children classed as overweight or obese by age nine.
Based on current trends, it is predicted half of children will be obese or overweight by 2020.
Professor Terence Stephenson, Vice Chair of the AoMRC and President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, criticised the government for “failing to make a significant impact” with its own obesity strategy.
“Our starting point is the collective desire to ensure the healthcare profession is doing all it can to detect, treat, manage – and ultimately prevent – obesity,” he said.
“[We have come together] because we recognise the huge crisis waiting to happen.
‘Speaking with one voice we have more of a chance of preventing generation after generation falling victim to obesity-related illnesses and death.”
A series of “practical recommendations” for healthcare professionals to reduce obesity levels among their patients are due to be published later in the year.
A Department of Health spokesperson said its obesity Call to Action – launched last year – is already “seeing results”.
“The Academy clearly shares our view that the need for action is urgent,” they said.
“Our Call to Action is mobilising a response and we welcome the medical profession's commitment.
"Businesses are committing to pledges and making a difference far more rapidly than we could achieve through legislation.
“Through the Responsibility Deal, major retailers and food manufacturers have already set a wide range of commitments to help people to cut their calorie consumption. This comes on top of an impressive number of high street restaurants and other out of home food retailers calorie-labelling their food.
"We are committed to identifying the best possible evidence of what works in tackling obesity and pulling together the evidence will be a key task for Public Health England, the new body we are setting up from April 2013."
Question: Do you think the government's obesity strategy is failing?