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New Alliance on Obesity Outlines Priorities for Action

A new alliance of organisations fighting obesity has outlined ten priorities for Government, retailers and health professionals.

The ground-breaking group launched today (30 November 2015) includes a variety of organisations from different but related fields, including medical, nursing, charity, and public health (full list below). While similar coalitions exist in tobacco control and alcohol harm reduction, this is the first time that so many organisations have agreed to join a coalition on obesity.

We have joined forces to urge the Government to help combat the epidemic of obesity and its costly consequences for the NHS. The Government is expected to publish its Childhood Obesity Strategy in January, which we hope will include our key recommendations set out in our joint position.

Around 30 per cent of children in the UK are obese or overweight. Many will grow into overweight or obese adults at higher risk of cancer, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other life-threatening illnesses. The Group says that Government action and legislation is vital to help protect children and families, from sales of food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar that will lead to poor health. More could be done to help parents to make healthier choices and support those already overweight who want to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

A joint statement focusing on the ten priorities for action that they want to see included in the Government’s childhood obesity strategy, will be published today on the organisations’ websites, including key recommendations:

  • Robust restrictions on unhealthy food marketing, including a 9pm watershed for TV advertising of junk food
  • Independent set of incremental reformulation targets, backed by regulation for industry to reduce the sugar, saturated fat and salt in our foods
  • The government should introduce a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks
  • The Government should commit to ambitious targets and sustained investment in active travel

Read the full statement with ten priorities here.

The Obesity Stakeholder Group comprises:

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges

Association for the Study of Obesity

British Heart Foundation

British Medical Association

Cancer Research UK

Children’s Food Campaign

Diabetes UK

Faculty of Public Health

Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine

The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation

National Obesity Forum

Royal College of General Practitioners

Royal College of Paediatric and Child Health

Royal College of Nursing

Royal College of Physicians London

Royal College of Physicians Specialist Committee on Sports and Exercise Medicine

Royal College of Psychiatrists

Why the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine is part of this key group on childhood obesity?

The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine works to raise awareness and influence policy on physical activity as an important intervention in the control and management of obesity and its associated health conditions.

The UK CMO guidelines for physical activity in children and young people is at least 1 hour per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, minimising the amount of time being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods. In it’s pre-election manifesto, the FSEM called for the new Government to promote healthy, active lifestyles in children and young people by reinstating at least two hours per week of physical activity in all schools.

There is compelling evidence to support the fact that an increase in the levels of exercise can reduce the risk of developing common chronic conditions in adulthood including cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, dementia and depression.

The FSEM believes that early intervention with a culture of wellness centred around physical activity should be at the core of our healthcare system, schools and local communities, if we are to reverse the trend of obesity and chronic disease in the UK. The nation’s healthcare focus should be directed towards physical inactivity as well as lifestyle and diet to prevent chronic disease and childhood obesity.

Dr Justin Hughes, Vice President of the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine, who attended the Obesity Stakeholder Group comments:

“The FSEM welcomes the joint policy position on childhood obesity recognising that there are many contributors to obesity and physical inactivity is a significant one. Increasing national physical activity levels, for both children and adults, is an important intervention in both the prevention, control and treatment of obesity in the UK.  Active travel, on a local level, is one of the ways the Government can introduce an increase in everyday activity amongst children in order to prevent and manage obesity, and the diseases associated with it in later life, for this vulnerable age group.” 

Ends

Read the FSEM’s comment and opinion on obesity, weight management and the associated conditions using the links below:

http://www.fsem.ac.uk/news/faculty-news/2015/may/prevent-obesity-and-chronic-disease.aspx

http://www.fsem.ac.uk/news/faculty-news/2015/november/brisk-walking-is-best-for-weight-management.aspx

http://www.fsem.ac.uk/news/faculty-news/2015/august/physical-activity-can-prevent-and-treat-type-2-diabetes.aspx

http://www.fsem.ac.uk/news/faculty-news/2015/july/physical-activity-an-important-intervention-in-the-prevention-and-control-of-obesity.aspx

Further Resources:

FSEM’s Manifesto – Making the Physically Active Choice

CMO Physical Activity Guidelines – Fact sheet for children and young people

FSEM sponsored Medical Student Exercise Prescription Booklet – Chapter 6 The Overweight Patient Who Wants to Exercise More

Public Health England – Child Obesity Overview

Scottish Government – Growing up in Scotland overweight, obesity and activity

FSEM and Royal College of Physicians – Exercise for Life

FSEM  – Exercise Medicine A Fresh Approach