Public health cuts causing rising childhood obesity, warns LGA

20 Aug 18

The government must reverse spending cuts to public health funding to tackle rising levels of childhood obesity in England and Wales, council leaders have urged.

The number of children and young people being treated for type 2 diabetes has increased by 40% in four years to more than 700 cases, according to the latest figures from the professional body for paediatricians, highlighted by the Local Government Association.

Type 2 diabetes is normally seen in adults and is linked to obesity, the LGA pointed out, but the data from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has shown the number of cases in children rose from 507 in 2013-14 to 715 in 2016-17.

Chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board Izzi Seccombe said: “Type 2 diabetes typically develops in adults over the age of 40, so while still rare in children, it is extremely worrying that we are seeing more young people develop the condition.”

The government plans to halve the number of obese children by 2030.

Seccombe said: “Councils with their public health responsibilities are on the front line fighting obesity but for this to work effectively they need to be properly resourced.

“Cutting their public health funding is short-sighted and undermines any attempt to help our children live healthy and fulfilling lives.”                                                                                   

The LGA said that to tackle childhood obesity, “as a minimum” the government should stem cuts to councils’ public health funding. The charities The King’s Fund and Health Foundation along with the think-tank the Nuffield Trust have calculated public health will see a cut of at least £600m by 2020-21.

The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, earlier this year revealed 22,000 children were classed as severely obese - the most overweight scale - when they leave primary school.

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