UK Government ‘childhood obesity strategy’ published

Date: 24th August 2016
Category: Disability, Basic Health and Welfare

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has recently expressed concern over the high prevalence of obesity among children in many parts of the UK - including Scotland - and yet the newly published childhood obesity strategy has been widely criticised for being ineffective.

One in three children leaves primary school overweight or obese, putting them at significantly greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes later in life. A particular problem identified in Scotland as elsewhere in the UK is the effect of sugary food and drink on tooth decay in children.

Previous evidence has called for far-reaching measures: to reduce junk-food advertising directed at children, to limit the number of supermarket promotions on unhealthy foods, and to force manufacturers to gradually reduce the sugar content of high-sugar foods. However, the UK strategy document instead focused only on reducing sugar consumption and increasing physical activity. Advertising and price promotion policies are absent and the focus is on voluntary action, apart from the sugar tax which had previously been announced.

The UN Concluding Observations

In June 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, following a UK State Party examination, released a set of recommendations, known as Concluding Observations that calls on the UK and devolved governments to take forward children's rights as enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The Committee expresses concern over the high prevalence of obesity among children in many parts
of the UK and makes the following recommendation:

67a) Systematically collect data on food security and nutrition for children, including those relevant to breastfeeding, overweight and obesity, in order to identify the root causes of child food insecurity and malnutrition.