BMA report

Growing up in the UK: ensuring a healthy future for our children

Our keystone report concluded that we are failing our most vulnerable children, and expressed major concerns about the effects of poverty and social inequalities on child health and wellbeing in the UK.

Location: UK
Audience: Public health doctors
Updated: Monday 7 September 2020
Topics: Population health
Public Health Article Illustration

What you will get from this report

  • Analysis of the effects of poverty and social inequalities on child health and wellbeing in the UK.
  • An examination of spending cuts on health intervention projects.
  • Recommendations on what is needed to move towards an equitable society, where all children are given the best start in life by adopting a life-course approach to child health.


Key findings

  • There should be an annual report on the health of the nation's children to review trends and assess what work best to improve child well-being.
  • There should be accountability at ministerial level for children's health and well-being and responsibility for implementing a framework of monitoring, reviewing and remedying processes.
  • Children's services should be family-centred and focused on the importance of parenting, where the child and family are treated as a unit.
  • Identify families where lifestyle could affect the health of the unborn child - for example a household where parents smoke, take drugs, misuse alcohol - and invest in community and family support schemes to tackle these issues.
  • Multi-disciplinary working between social services, education authorities, healthcare teams, police services and others should be made easier.


  • Introduction
  • Setting the scene
  • Inequalities in child health
  • Nutrition
  • Child maltreatment: moving towards a public health approach
  • The child with a disability
  • Emotional and behavioural problems
  • Fetal origins of adult disease
  • Conclusions and summary
  • Recommendations for childhood health: a life-course approach