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#GPnews: End ‘pick and mix’ approach to childhood obesity, Government told

14:35 In light of the news that obesity rates in primary school children are rising rather than falling, experts are calling on the Government to go back to the drawing board on its childhoold obesity strategy.

David Buck, senior fellow in public health and inequalities at The King’s Fund, said: ‘The Government needs to demonstrate its commitment to children’s health by setting out a stronger strategy for how it and others can reduce the proportion of children who are overweight and obese.

’While progress on reducing the amount of sugar in soft drinks has been a welcome step forward, these are problems where a “pick and mix” approach to policies is nowhere near enough to address one of the biggest public health challenges of our time. 

’The latest data also shows that inequalities are widening, with children from the most deprived areas over twice as likely to be obese as those from the least deprived. 

’At a time when action is badly needed, councils are struggling to find funds to support childhood obesity prevention and the Government’s childhood obesity plan is over-reliant on voluntary measures and working with industry, despite its welcome commitment to the sugar levy.’

Or, as Pulse blogger Dr David Turner suggests, how about some visual warnings on sugary drinks in the form of ‘a morbidly obese diabetic with ulcerated legs and gangrenous toes’?

Click here to read the west London GP’s blog post on hospital soft drinks displays in full

12:05 Rates of childhood obesity has continued to rise over the past year despite Government promising efforts to curb the phenomenon.

The Guardian reports on NHS Digital figures showing 9.6% of children in reception classes in 2016/17 were obese, compared with 9.3% the year before.

The problem is twice as bad in poor areas compared to affluent counterparts.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: ’Children deserve a healthy future and these figures are a reminder that addressing childhood obesity requires urgent action.

’There is no single solution to reverse what’s been decades in the making. We need sustained actions to tackle poor diets and excess calorie intakes.

‘We’re working with industry to make food healthier, we’ve produced guidance for councils on planning healthier towns, and we’ve delivered campaigns encouraging people to choose healthier food and lead healthier lives.’

The Government was criticised by GPs and health campaigners for ‘watering down’ its childhood obesity strategy, which focuses on voluntary measures to be taken by manufacturers of unhealthy food and drinks.

09:30 Today’s top story focuses on NHS England’s fast-track scheme to return GPs to the profession after career breaks or stints abroad – which according to a senior GP has attracted around 400 doctors back into general practice.

The scheme didn’t get off to the best start back on 2015, when Pulse revealed just one GP was actually properly fast-tracked through the induction process, but subsequent amendments to the programme appears to have paid off.

Read the full story here

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