Public Health Cuts Could Hit Anti-Obesity Effort
The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that cuts to the public health budget are putting efforts to tackle obesity at risk. Latest figures show councils will have spent £505 million by next year on obesity projects.
With the government public health spend to local authorities set to fall from £3.38 billion in 2016/17 to 3.13 billion in 2020/21, experts are concerned that extra pressure put on Directors of Public Health could result in services being cut. Offers, such as free or cheaper leisure facilities, could come under fire at a time when the Department of Health is charged with the responsibility of making the ‘sugar tax’ on soft drinks work.
The LGA say the current budget outlay is a clear indication of the scale of the problem, which sees 10% of children aged between four and five classed as obese. Councillor Izzi Sercombe, community well being portfolio holder at the LGA, told the BBC; “We would like assurances from the government’s new administration that the long-awaited childhood obesity strategy is still on track and that it includes tough measures that will help to reverse the rise in costs and children becoming obese. Today’s obese children will be tomorrow’s obese adults, and with this comes a range of costly and debilitating major health conditions.”
The LGA has also called on the government to introduce a range of measures, including calorie counts on restaurant menus and the ability to ban junk food advertising near schools.