National Child Obesity Epidemic

Create A Cabinet Minister For Children To Address National Child Obesity Epidemic!

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood claims that without a strategic,  co-ordinated approach, the country will be faced with a child obesity epidemic of ‘ intractable  and devastating effect ’ and has called for a new post of  Cabinet Minister for Children to drive policy to promote child health and fitness  across all Government  Departments.

In a report based upon contributions from 23 cross-sector organisations, The All Party Parliamentary Group on A Fit and Healthy Childhood has made detailed recommendations to address a current crisis whereby 40% of children living in Birmingham are classified as overweight and findings from an Early Bird Diabetes Trust survey of 300 Devon children reveal that over 90% of excess weight gained by girls and over 70% gained by boys is acquired before school age.

‘Healthy Patterns for Healthy Families’ advocates a ‘whole family’ approach proposing  new strategies and approaches to ante-natal care, early years provision and professional  training,  play and leisure, nutrition within  the school environment and socio-economic policy.

It recommends an increased role for lifestyle weight management programmes in improving levels of family fitness and wellbeing and new responsibilities for local government in the planning system and public health

Commenting on the report, Jenny Caven, Slimming World Head of Public Affairs said:

“If we don’t take steps now to do something to support families to adopt healthier patterns, our children will die before us. Tackling obesity across the family needs a whole system approach that includes health professionals, carers, teachers, parents and young people themselves.”

The All Party Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood is Chaired by Baroness (Floella) Benjamin, who commended the report:

‘I’d like to thank all the organisations and individuals who advised the Working Group and enabled us to come up with some really strong and constructive recommendations. It is now widely acknowledged that the nation is in the grip of a child obesity epidemic. This report will help families and the professionals who support them to turn the tide and establish new and healthy patterns of living for all our children.Helen Clark, Chair of the Working Group and author of ‘Healthy Patterns for Healthy Families’ added:

‘Everyone who has participated in this process has experienced a learning curve. Some of our findings are extremely disappointing, but families are trying to do their best in a climate that is not properly supportive of their needs.

We have found example of good practice and some sensible initiatives taken both by this Government  and its predecessor – but much more is required  and  many people are simply unaware of what help is already available to them.

As the General Election approaches, I hope that politicians of all parties will consider our proposals and if there is one recommendation above all that the All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood would urge an incoming Government to adopt, it is to appoint a Minster for Children to drive the policy and co-ordinate a strategy to promote child health and fitness across all Departments.

This should be a Cabinet post.