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Political leadership for National Obesity Awareness Week 2018? Fat chance.

It’s National Obesity Awareness Week

It's National Obesity Awareness Week but how many of us know it? And how many of us know that:

• Britain is the most obese country in Europe?
• Childhood obesity is still rising and one in three children leave primary school overweight or obese?
• Obese adults are seven times more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes?
• Diabetes costs have doubled in a decade to 10% of the NHS budget (that’s £25k every second)?
• Public health budgets to prevent all this are facing annual cuts of hundreds of millions of pounds every year.

Surely this is an issue worthy of political leadership? Surely 2018 is going to be the year we turn this around? Fat chance, as things stand.

5 tests for the Government in 2018

But I am willing to be proved wrong. These are my five tests for the Government in 2018 to prove they do have the political will to reverse childhood obesity as they pledged in their Childhood Obesity Plan over a year ago:

1. Stop raiding prevention budgets: reverse public health cuts that threaten school food programmes like Food for Life that are proven to improve children’s diets.

2. Ensure every Ofsted report rates schools on school food and pupil health and wellbeing – the Government’s promised Healthy Rating Scheme to enable this is 16 months late and may never materialise.

3. Make the newly revised Voluntary Food and Drink Guidelines for Early Years Settings mandatory and give every nursery, children’s centre and childminder access to training so they have a chance of meeting them. They’re currently gathering virtual dust on a Government website.

4. Introduce strong controls on junk food price promotions in supermarkets and other high street stores like WHSmith’s.

5. Ensure the NHS practises what it preaches: announce that every hospital will be a beacon of good food by 2020.

A final plea to all obesity campaigners

Let’s not just talk calories, fat and sugar. We all – and children in particular - need nourishment, not just a healthy weight. What we do eat counts as much as what we don’t, for both our mental and physical health, so let’s not pretend that diet drinks and no-sugar chewing gum represent any kind of answer. The UK already eats four times more processed food than fresh. Let’s leave space for policies that help us rediscover the joy of real, fresh, unprocessed food, eaten around a table together.