The government has defended its Childhood Obesity Plan, saying it is “confident the measures announced will make a real difference to obesity rates and expect them to lead to a significant reduction in childhood obesity over 10 years”.
In a document released by the Department of Health and Social Care yesterday (11th January) in response to the House of Commons Health Select Committee report on Childhood obesity: Follow-up, the government claimed that the Plan’s focus was on “reducing inequalities” and reducing obesity rates in children from lower incomes, through the policies such as the soft drinks levy and reformulation programme.
“Public Health England (PHE) is also supporting actions to improve the health of the most disadvantaged groups fastest and address the social determinants of poor health,” the report stated. “This includes influencing and supporting efforts by local government, clinical commissioning groups and other local bodies to take action to reduce inequalities through the provision of accessible data and data tools; support to a health and health equity in all policies in local government through training and resources; and embedding health inequalities dimensions into all PHE led major health improvement programmes.”
However, the report admits that the fight is not over, stating that it is an “ongoing process” and cites the announcement of a calorie reduction programme in August last year as just the latest initiative since the publication of the original Childhood Obesity Plan.
“We are continuing our conversations with industry, schools, experts and the public sector on how we can further tackle childhood obesity,” the report states.
The report comes after the Health Select Committee criticised the Plan for having “vague statements” about looking “to further levers” if the current plan does not work, calling this “not adequate” and requesting clear goals for reducing childhood obesity.
Some clarity was given in the government report. The Committee had called for sugary milk drinks to be included in the soft drinks levy and the government said it would review this in 2020. It also said it would consider putting in place levers if the voluntary sugar reduction programme does not work.