18 August 2016

Measures to Address Diet and Lifestyle Essential to Tackle Childhood Obesity, Says College

Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, spokesperson for the Royal College of GPs, said:

“We are currently seeing a dangerous epidemic of childhood obesity across the country – the tragedy being that overweight children invariably have a life marred by ill-health, and increased risk of conditions such as cancer and diabetes ahead of them.

“The College has been leading the way in getting something done about this – we wrote to the Chief Medical Officer almost two years ago highlighting the issue - so we welcome the aspirations of this strategy report today.

“As well as threatening the health of our future generations, obesity-related conditions cost the NHS upwards of £5bn a year, which affects everyone. The earlier we tackle this in our patients, the better.

"It's disappointing that some of the more radical initiatives expected, such as a ban on pre-watershed junk food advertising, that could potentially help to curb rising levels of childhood obesity, don't feature in today's report - but the measures that do are positive steps forward.

“The inter-agency focus on greater exercise in schools is particularly welcome. Promoting physical activity and healthy lifestyles in our patients is a clinical priority for the College, and this impetus on schools, parents and other caregivers to play a key role in keeping our children active is a good place to start.

“Just last month we were hearing that one hour of exercise a day can make all the difference to long term health and wellbeing, so it makes sense that this is instilled and encouraged in our children from an early age.

“But it isn’t only active lifestyles that need to be encouraged. Junk food and sugary drinks and snacks are fine as an occasional treat, but they are too often becoming a part of children’s regular diets. Often, this isn’t the fault of consumers, as sugar is concealed in drinks such as fruit juice and cereals, which can seem like the healthy option.

“The College has consistently backed calls for a levy on sugary drinks - as well as other initiatives such as better food labelling – and we are pleased that this strategy recommends such measures to be implemented swiftly.

“We also welcome the support, and greater variety of treatment options, promised for GPs and other healthcare professionals to enhance training in nutrition, and in having what can be incredibly difficult conversations with patients about managing their weight and living healthy lifestyles.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659


The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.