Food Active response to the Chief Medical Officer’s ‘Time to Solve Childhood Obesity’ Report

Food Active response to the Chief Medical Officer’s ‘Time to Solve Childhood Obesity’ Report

Last week, the outgoing Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, published her final report ‘Time to Solve Childhood Obesity’, making a series of bold and ambitious recommendations to the Government to take further action to address childhood obesity.  Here what we have to say about it…

Alex Holt, Food and Nutrition Lead, Food Active said:

“The outgoing Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has certainly bowed out with a bang, making a series of bold, ambitious but wholly warranted recommendations to the Government to help tackle obesity. 


The report ironically came on the same day as latest National Child Measurement Programme results were published, painting yet another disappointing picture that illustrates the Government’s current lack of progress. Whilst the prevalence of obesity in 10-11 year olds has remained similar to that seen in 2017/18 (20.2%), in 4-5 year olds the prevalence has increased from 9.5% in 2017/18 to 9.7% in 2018/19 – such statistics make the report all the more necessary.


A number of the recommendations made by the CMO echo some of the calls we have been making over the last few years, including re balancing promotions towards healthier foods, reducing children’s exposure to the marketing of less healthy food and drink – across all platforms – , considering sponsorship of food brands in sport and focusing on maternal and early years. We also echo the CMO’s concerns about the staggered progress of some of the measures outlined in the Childhood Obesity Plan Chapter 1 and 2. 


With the government’s target to halving childhood obesity by 2030 looking increasingly unlikely, we believe the CMO’s recommendations to go beyond the measures outlined in Chapter 1, 2 and 3 of the Childhood Obesity Plan are fully warranted. Solving the obesity crisis is not impossible, but it will require significant changes to current policy to help transform the food environment into one that promotes healthy lifestyles and behaviors. This power lies solely with the Government and it is up to them to exercise their responsibility in implementing the appropriate action.”  


Key recommendations in ‘Time to solve childhood obesity’ – CMO Special Report

  • Rebalance the food and drinks sold to favour healthy options, through regulation.
  • Allow children to grow up free from marketing, signals and incentives to consume unhealthy food and drinks.
  • Introduce innovative policies that find the win-wins for children’s health and the private sector: E.g. continue private sector sponsorship of major sporting events, facilities and stars, but only allow advertising and sales of their most healthy products on site.
  • Invest in and design the built environment to create the opportunities for children to be active and healthy
  • Take action to improve: exercise and healthy weight in pregnancy, breastfeeding rates, and infant feeding.
  • Ensure schools and nurseries play a central role, supported by Ofsted monitoring. Teachers know that being overweight impacts on children’s lives and they need support to do the right things. Food, drink and physical activity standards should be set and adhered to in all schools and nurseries.
  • Ensure our NHS and health sector workforce can deliver what our children and families need to prevent, manage and treat obesity, including having conversations about weight and tackling weightrelated stigma.
  • Make better use of data to guide practice: E.g. systematically link and share data on children’s weight to intervene early; share private sector data, such as supermarket sales data, with policy makers and researchers
  • Protect and prioritise our children’s health and rights while making trade deals. Their health and a healthy environment must come above company profits.
  • Develop the evidence base to inform practice and policy

You can read the full report here: Time to Solve Childhood Obesity

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