Roughly 3.28 million school-aged children in the UK will be overweight or obese by 2025, according to research by the British Dietetic Association.
According to the association, current trends mean that by 2025, obesity-related diseases will increasingly affect school-children, including 43,000 with type 2 Diabetes and 296,000 with hypertension.
‘Unplanned calories from foods high in fat and sugar purchased at checkouts contribute towards poor diet and poor health, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes, which may lead to premature death,’ said Lucy Turnbull, obesity specialist at the British Dietetic Association. ‘Eating sugary or acidic food and drink also directly contributes to tooth damage.’
The British Dietetic Association is calling for the government to act now to prevent these predictions from becoming reality. The organisation is urging the government to strengthen its plan for action to include areas such as regulation of advertising and price promotions on unhealthy food and drink, improve education programmes around childhood obesity, and continue to support the implementation of a ‘sugar levy’.
Far too many retailers are unwilling to stop pushing unhealthy food at the checkout and queuing areas,’ added Ms Turnbull. ‘It may be lucrative for them but it is deeply unpopular with customers, and nudges purchasing behaviour in the wrong direction. If retailers can’t act on their own, then we hope to see robust action from the government to tackle this problem.’
Another report released by the Obesity Health Alliance found that boys in deprived areas are particularly at risk of being obese. Three in five (60%) of the most deprived boys aged 5-11 are predicted to be overweight or obese by 2020, compared to about one in six (16%) of boys in the most affluent group.
'From a young age, children are developing a taste for high sugar, salt and fatty foods that is difficult to break once established and as a nation, we all have a responsibility to help shape children’s diets,' said Robin Ireland, chief executive at the Health Equalities Group and member of the Obesity Health Alliance. 'Sugary drink consumption levels tend to be highest among the most disadvantaged children who are hit hardest by obesity and tooth decay. The health gains from the soft drinks industry levy will be biggest for our most deprived children.'