The UK is struggling to get to grips with the obesity crisis, healthcare leaders have claimed.
In an annual report, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) revealed that almost a third of 10-11 year olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year olds are overweight or obese.
The report called for at least £300 million to be invested in weight management programmes over the next three years, to reach the amount spent on smoking cessation services.
Half of the suggestions made in last year's report, Measuring Up, have been reported as a cause for concern because of government inaction.
No progress has been made on banning junk food advertising before 9pm, introducing a 20% sugary drinks tax, bringing nutritional standards to free schools and academies, or issuing guidance on integrating public health considerations into local environments.
Professor Terence Stephenson, AoMRC chair, said: “It’s disappointing that we haven’t seen more progress over the last year – particularly on some of the areas such as nutritional standards in Academies and Free Schools and junk food advertising. These have the potential to have a real positive impact on childhood obesity at very little cost."
He added: “When we launched these recommendations, we made it clear that the only way to tackle the obesity crisis was by governments, the healthcare professions, schools and individuals taking collective responsibility and working together to change the culture. Whilst we’re seeing action in some areas, such as food labelling and training for healthcare professionals, the bold steps needed to have real impact are sadly still missing.”
However, AoMRC said that there had been progress on:
- Education and training programmes for healthcare professionals has been stepped up, including In October 2013 NICE guidelines on Managing overweight and obesity amongst children and young people. The Medical Royal Colleges have also introduced a range of courses on obesity management for child health professionals
- Food labelling: the recommendation of a unified system of traffic light food labelling for restaurants and fast food outlets came to fruition in June 2013 the Department of Health produced new guidance on nutrition labelling
- Increasing support for new parents: there is progress on ‘skilling up’ the wider early years workforce to help parents make healthy choices for their children as Health Minister Dan Poulter MP introduced a Healthy Child Programme to sit alongside the NHS Information Guide for Parents and Start4Life schemes
Professor Stephenson added: "As the General Election approaches, we want to see parties of all colours committing to tackle the obesity crisis head on. Without the political will, we risk the country’s health budget continuing to be consumed by diseases resulting from an entirely avoidable condition.”
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