The government has published a document, setting out goals to prevent health and social crises including childhood obesity.
The document, Prevention is better than cure, addresses the need to act now to reduce impact on the NHS in years to come as the nation becomes more reliant on services. It is part of the NHS’ long-term plan and new approaches like predictive prevention, which will explore how digital technology can be used to offer individuals precise and targeted health advice.
As well as halving childhood obesity by 2030, an ambition already stated by the government, the plans include consulting on measures to encourage employers to support more disabled people into work, increase specialist mental health services to women in pregnancy and diagnosing 75% of cancers at stages 1 and 2 by 2028.
Regarding childhood obesity, the document reports how the government has already made steps towards this goal by introducing the soft drinks levy and working with industry to reformulate products that children eat and drink the most. The government currently consulting on its intention to end the sale of energy drinks to children and introduce mandatory calorie labelling for the ‘out-of-home sector’. It will also consult on further measures as announced in chapter 2 of the Childhood Obesity Plan.
The report also highlights how Change4Life has seen more than four million people sign up to the programme in the last 10 years.
“A focus on prevention and predictive medicine isn’t just the difference between life and death, it’s the difference between spending the last 20 years of your life fit and active, or in constant pain from a chronic condition. So our focus must shift from treating single acute illnesses to promoting the health of the whole individual. That requires more resources for prevention,” said health secretary Matt Hancock.
Responding to the paper, LACA said: “LACA are pleased that the government is taking seriously the challenge of childhood obesity. As the Department for Health and Social Care’s policy paper notes, we have one of the highest childhood obesity rates in Western Europe. LACA believe that as part of a holistic approach to tackling this issue, the provision of a hot, healthy and nutritious school meal is essential for all pupils.”