Healthier weight promotion

A set of training tools providing evidence-based healthy weight messages for health and social care professionals to give to children, young people and families | Public Health England

The resources consist of:

The target audience for these resources is health and care professionals but they will be accessible to the wider public health workforce. This suite of resources is part of Public Health England’s All Our Health ‘call to action’ for health and care professionals.



Childhood obesity: Time for action

Childhood obesity: time for action |   Health and Social Care Select Committee


It was estimated that the NHS in England spent £6.1 billion on overweight and obesity  related ill-health in 2017/18. To put this in context, this is more than the Government  spent on the police, fire service and judicial system combined.

Childhood obesity is also a leading cause of health inequality. The burden is falling
disproportionately on children from low-income backgrounds. Obesity rates are highest for children from the most deprived areas and the inequality gap has widened every year since formal recording began as part of the child measurement programme.

The Government is expected to publish shortly a refreshed version of the childhood obesity plan. This report from the Health and Social Care Select Committee outlines the key areas which demand attention as a matter of urgency by the Government before the next chapter of the plan is finalised.

The key areas include: A whole systems approach

  • Marketing and advertising
  • Price promotions
  • Early years and schools
  • Takeaways
  • Fiscal measures
  • Labelling
  • Services for children living with obesity

Full report: Childhood obesity: time for action

See also: Childhood obesity is everyone’s business

22,000 children severely obese when they leave primary school

Local Government Association| May 2018 |22,000 children severely obese when they leave primary school

Children in their final year of primary school are nearly twice as likely to be obese as those in Reception, analysis by Local Government Association shows. Their analysis, the first of its kind for 2016/17 obtained by the LGA and supplied by the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), of data shows more than 22,000 children aged 10 and 11 in Year 6 are classed as severely obese (LGA).


The analysis shows:

  • A total of 22,646 out of 556,452 (4.1 per cent) of 10 and 11 year-old children in Year 6 are classed as severely obese;
  • This is nearly twice that of the 14,787 out of 629,359 children (2.35 per cent) of four and five year-old children in Reception classed as severely obese, showing children are gaining weight at a drastic rate as they go through schools.

Obesity services

The current landscape of obesity services |  The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Obesity 

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This report presents the findings of an inquiry which sought to gather a body of evidence highlighting the current provision of obesity services, identify the barriers to better provision and sought to establish a consensus around potential solutions.  The report makes a number of recommendations which includes the development of a national obesity strategy.

Key findings of the report: 

  • 88% of people with obesity who took part in the survey have been stigmatised, criticised or abused as a result of their obesity.
  • 94% of all respondents believe that there is not enough understanding about the causes of obesity amongst the public, politicians and other stakeholders.
  • 42% of people with obesity did not feel comfortable talking to their GP about their obesity.
  • More than one third of people with obesity who completed the survey stated that they have not accessed any lifestyle or prevention services.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including:  

  1. A national obesity strategy for both adult and childhood obesity should be developed and implemented by the Government, with input from key stakeholders. This should look to strengthen existing services and replicate best practice across the country.
  2. Obesity/weight management training should be introduced into medical school syllabuses to ensure GPs and other healthcare practitioners feel able and comfortable to raise and discuss a person’s weight, without any stigma or discrimination.
  3. The Government should implement a 9pm watershed on advertising of food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt to protect children during family viewing time.
  4. The Government should lead or support efforts by the clinical community to investigate whether obesity should be classified as a disease in the UK, and what this would mean for the NHS and other services.
  5. The Government should commission or support the development of a thorough, peer-reviewed cost benefit analysis of earlier intervention and treatment of people with obesity.

Full report: The current landscape of obesity services

The correlation between child and adolescent obesity and poverty widened in the twenty-first century, according to UCL research

Bann, David et al. | Socioeconomic inequalities in childhood and adolescent body-mass index, weight, and height from 1953 to 2015: an analysis of four longitudinal, observational, British birth cohort studies  | The Lancet Public Health | Vol. 0 |  0 | ePub | Doi:

Researchers from University College London examined socioeconomic inequalities in childhood body- mass index (BMI).  Previous research findings revealed an association between rich countries and childhood-adolescent weight status, this study sought to address uncertainty surrounding how these markers (height, weight and BMI) have changed over time in Britain.

The longitudinal study looked at data from four longitudinal, observational, British birth cohort studies from 1946, 1958, 1970 and 2001. They categorised those in the 1946, 1958 and 1970 studies as the earlier-born cohorts and those from the 2001 cohort study as the later- born cohort.  They found that although inequalities traditionally associated with  height and weight narrowed or reversed, whereas differences in BMI between the poorest and wealthiest children expanded.

While there was little inequality in childhood BMI in the earlier-born cohorts, inequalities were present in the 2001 cohort and widened from childhood to adolescence in the 1958–2001 cohort. Their research has identified an association between obesity and poverty. According to the researchers, “these substantial changes highlight the impact of societal changes on child and adolescent growth and the insufficiency of previous policies in preventing obesity and its socioeconomic inequality. As such, new and effective policies are required to reduce BMI inequalities in childhood and adolescence.”

The full article is available from The Lancet Public Health 

As The Lancet Public Health is an open access journal the full article can be downloaded here 

Related: The Lancet’s comment Trends in childhood height and weight, and socioeconomic inequalities can be read here 

In the media:

The Telegraph  Poor children in Britain now fatter than wealthy in dramatic reversal

Express  Child obesity: How children lost the war on weight

2008 recession led to increase in obesity, diabetes and mental health issues

The 2008 recession resulted in changes to individuals’ health behaviour, with a significant increase in the likelihood of obesity, diabetes and mental health problems | Social Science & Medicine | Story via ScienceDaily.


Researchers from City University London and King’s College London looked at data from the Health Survey for England (HSE), a cross-sectional survey taken yearly from a representative sample of about 9,000 English households. They specifically used data on respondents above 16 years of age for the period 2001-2013. In addition to socio-economic characteristics, the HSE includes information on a wide range of health lifestyles and health conditions.

The results of the study suggest that the start of the recession was associated with worse dietary habits and increased BMI and obesity. It was also associated with a shift away from risky behaviours, as a decrease in smoking and alcohol consumption was seen. In addition, there was an increase in the use of medicines and a higher likelihood of suffering diabetes and mental health problems, all of which were generally experienced more acutely by those with less education and by women.

Researchers discovered that the probability of being obese and severely obese increased by 4.1 and 2.4 percentage points respectively. Similarly, the probability of having diabetes was 1.5 percentage points higher after 2008, with the prevalence of mental health problems increasing by 4 percentage points.

Full story at ScienceDaily

Full reference: Mireia Jofre-Bonet, Victoria Serra-Sastre, Sotiris Vandoros |  The impact of the Great Recession on health-related risk factors, behaviour and outcomes in England | Social Science & Medicine, 2018.

Calorie reduction programme

Steps to cut people’s excessive calorie intake have been unveiled by Public Health England (PHE), as part of the government’s strategy to cut childhood and adult obesity.


This report sets out the evidence on children’s calorie consumption and the details of the calorie reduction programme.

In terms of the evidence the report includes details of:

  • recommendations around calorie intakes, sources of calories and reported levels of intake
  • calculated estimates for daily energy intakes and excess calories consumed by children and adults
  • evidence on reformulation and portion size reduction; and public perceptions and attitudes to calories
  • estimated health economic benefits of a calorie reduction programme

For the calorie reduction programme, the reports sets out:

  • the overall ambition and structure of the programme
  • the food categories included
  • suggested mechanisms for action
  • timeline and next steps for PHE

Full report: Calorie reduction: the scope and ambition for action

Additional link: PHE news story