Will the message hit home?
The Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee has just published the government response to its follow-up report on childhood obesity. But I don’t recall it grabbing many headlines. So what exactly did it reveal?
Not surprisingly, it says childhood obesity remains one of the biggest health challenges in England, with the prevalence of obesity in Reception year children (aged 4-5 years) at 9.5%. But in Year 6 (aged 10-11), the figure now stands at a whopping 20%.
Data also shows that the burden of childhood obesity is not being felt equally across all parts of society, with children growing up in low income households more than twice as likely to be obese than those in higher income households. The government says it wants to address such inequalities to ensure that all children, regardless of background, have the best start in life.
It says its ambition is to halve childhood obesity by 2030, and significantly reduce the gap in obesity between children from the most and least deprived areas by 2030.
Of more interest though is apparent evidence showing that parents find it difficult to recognise when their children are overweight or obese, but that ‘the majority (87.2%) do appreciate being given feedback on the weight status of their children’.
If a parent is unable or, perhaps more likely, unwilling to acknowledge that their child is overweight – I can’t imagine they’re going to take too kindly to a stranger breaking the news.
That said, it’s welcome news that the government is finally acknowledging the disparity between low and high income families.
But if that’s the case, why then are they still so determined to demonise the food industry, along with its marketing and advertising campaigns, when by their own admission, the source of the problem is far closer to home?