Obesity: Children

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered at on 23 October 2023.

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Photo of Mary Foy Mary Foy Labour, City of Durham

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of childhood obesity levels in (a) City of Durham constituency, (b) County Durham, (c) the North East and (d) England; and what steps his Department is taking to tackle childhood obesity in each of those areas.

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) collects data on children aged four to five years old (Reception) and 10 to 11 years old (Year 6).

The following table shows data on obesity prevalence from the NCMP in the academic year 2022-23. Data is not available at Parliamentary constituency level but is available at local authority, regional and England levels:

Percentage of children living with obesity

Area

Reception (%)

Year 6 (%)

County Durham

11.8

25.6

North East

11.3

25.8

England

9.2

22.7

Local authorities and the National Health Service provide weight management services to support children and families to achieve and maintain a healthier weight. Local authorities can fund behavioural weight management services from their Public Health Grant.

In England, new regulations on out-of-home calorie labelling for food sold in large businesses, including restaurants, cafes and takeaways, came into force in April 2022. Restrictions on the placement of less healthy products in key selling locations in store and online came into force in October 2022. The location restrictions are the single most impactful obesity policy in reducing children’s calorie consumption, and are expected to accrue health benefits of over £57 billion and provide savings to the National Health Service of over £4 billion over the next 25 years.

We are also working with the food industry to make further progress on reformulation and ensure it is easier for the public to make healthier choices. We have seen important successes including the average sugar content of drinks subject to the Soft Drinks Industry Levy decreasing by 46% between 2015 and 2020. There has also been success in some categories of the sugar reduction programme, including a 14.9% reduction of sugar in retailer- and manufacturer-branded breakfast cereals and a 13.5% reduction in yogurts and fromage frais.

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