30% of youngsters in South West Bedfordshire are overweight or obese

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Up to 30% of South West Bedfordshire’s 11 and 12 year old are obese or overweight.

That’s the stark message from constituency MP Andrew Selous, who attended an event in Parliament to support calls for Government to swiftly and fully implement the policy proposals outlined in chapter 2 of their Childhood Obesity Plan.

In 2017/18, 19% of children in South West Bedfordshire started primary school with excess weight or obesity. By year 7, 30% of South West Bedfordshire children were overweight or obese.

The plan includes a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts on TV, equivalent measures online and restrictions on unhealthy food promotions.

The event was organised by the Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of over 40 leading charities, medical royal colleges and campaign groups. MPs in attendance discovered the latest childhood obesity statistics in their constituencies, and discussed the issue with a range of experts, including a children’s doctor, an academic and a former marketer with first-hand experience of the tactics used by the advertising industry to encourage us to buy and consume excess sugar and calories.

Mr Selous even had the opportunity to create his own compelling junk food advert, raising awareness about the tricks of the trade.

Obesity increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart and liver disease plus associated mental health problems, putting an enormous and unsustainable strain on the NHS.

Speaking at the event, Mr Selous said:

“With 19% starting primary school and 30% ending primary school with excess weight or obesity, it is clear that urgent action is needed to address this problem.

“Action on junk food marketing and promotions of unhealthy food and drink is essential to ensuring that children and their families in my constituency – and across the country – can lead healthier lives. That’s why I support Obesity Health Alliance calls for Government to implement the proposals in Chapter 2 of the Childhood Obesity Plan without delay.”

Caroline Cerny, Obesity Health Alliance Lead, said: “It’s great to see MPs pledging to support Obesity Health Alliance calls for the swift and full implementation of the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan. We know that children these days are growing up in obesogenic environments. Families are bombarded by junk food adverts during the shows they watch the most, tempted by cheap fast food outlets littering the high street, and encouraged to buy unhealthy food and drinks through price and prominent place promotions in stores.

“Families want to make healthy choices for their children, and we believe that Chapter 2 of the Childhood Obesity Plan, if fully implemented without delay, will help them to do this, and ultimately help to lower childhood obesity rates sooner rather than later”.

Mr Selous signed a letter to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, urging his Department to fully engage with the upcoming consultation on junk food marketing. Government are expected to publish this and other consultations on Childhood Obesity Plan proposals by the end of the year.