Obesity strategy by Government is 'letting children down', Northampton-based charity warns

Jenny Hirst, from Northampton-based InDependent Diabetes Trust (IDDT).

Jenny Hirst, from Northampton-based InDependent Diabetes Trust (IDDT).

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The new childhood obesity strategy is “letting down a generation of children”, a national diabetes charity based in Northampton has said.

The government’s plan to tackle growing obesity levels and a rise in Type 2 diabetes “does not go far enough”, according to the InDependent Diabetes Trust (IDDT).

Jenny Hirst, who is the co-chair of the charity, said: “We are pleased that the government has published this plan of action, but we are disappointed it does not go far enough to tackle childhood obesity. It lets down a generation of children.

“We hear continuously about the shortage of cash in the NHS but one certain way to save the health service money is to have an effective childhood obesity plan to prevent costly complications of obesity in future years.”

The Public Health England document includes a voluntary target for the junk food industry to cut sugar in products aimed at children by 20 per cent and a drive for primary school children to exercise daily for an hour.

Mrs Hirst added: “We question why other measures are not included in the strategy, such as regulating the food industry to reduce saturated fat, salt and added sugar content to many products, in addition to sugary drinks.

“What has happened to restrictions on TV advertising of unhealthy foods before the watershed and online advertising of these same products?

“We know from the experiences over the past few years that asking the food industry to voluntarily take action does not work, so if this government is truly committed to the future health of the nation’s children, it needs to think again.”

One in five children is obese or overweight by the age of 10 which puts them at greater risk of developing serious health conditions later in life. Obese adults are seven times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than adults of a healthy weight. Complications of the condition can cause blindness, amputations and heart disease.

Being obese doubles the person’s chance of dying prematurely, which is why it is being targeted as not only will it help save lives it will also help ease the strain of the financial burden the NHS has.

It is estimated that NHS in England spent £5.1 billion on overweight and obesity-related ill-health in 2014/15.

IDDT has over 35,000 members and works across the globe helping families and people with diabetes to manage their condition and live positive, healthy lives.

The charity provides information booklets and other support, such as collecting unwanted insulin to help adults and children in developing countries who cannot afford the insulin they need for survival.