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BMA briefing: Childhood obesity strategy

Doctors are increasingly concerned about the impact of obesity on their patients and NHS resources.

The BMA has long campaigned for measures to reduce levels of obesity, including action targeted at improving children’s diets, and increasing active travel and physical activity levels. We believe there has been an over-reliance on personal responsibility and educational approaches, which fail to recognise the need for a range of interventions to support and promote behaviour change, including some regulatory approaches, which will require action by Government.

We are concerned by the ongoing delays in the publication of the Government’s obesity strategy and ask that it be released as soon as possible.


Key points

  • Doctors are deeply concerned about the impact of poor diet on the public’s health, which is responsible for up to 70,000 deaths a year, and has the most significant impact on the NHS budget, costing £6bn a year.
  • A comprehensive, cross-government strategy that supports and sustains healthy diets and physical activity is urgently required. The strategy should include a range of interventions, including a tax on all sugar- sweetened beverages, which increases the price by at least 20 per cent and the introduction of UK wide targets, to be achieved by 2020, to reduce calorie, fat, saturated fat and added sugar levels across a range of products.
  • A strong regulatory framework should be central to the approach to reducing the burden of diet-related ill health in the UK, which focuses on interventions that limit commercial influences on people’s dietary behaviour and encourage health dietary patterns.
  • It is also essential that the obesity strategy includes interventions to support physical activity and active travel.


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Childhood obesity strategy

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