Tackling child obesity - first steps: eighth report of session 2006-07, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence

The Committee of Public Accounts has set out a number of conclusions and recommendations on tackling child obesity, including: that the Public Service Agreement target set by three Government Departments (Health, Education and Culture, Media & Sport), needs to improve in both their responses to this matter and leadership; the complex delivery chain for tackling child obesity, which involves 26 different bodies, needs a set of clear measures to judge performance and contribution; parents need to be engaged with this project, with high profile messages and advice readily available outlining the risk of obesity; the Department of Health's national programme to measure children for obesity in the primary schools of England, should have in place a mechanism for informing individual parents if their child is obese; with a two year delay between the Health Survey for England and the publication of results, Departments should use annual data from weighing and measuring in schools to gauge performance in tackling obesity; the Departments should encourage the growth in the retail market for healthy food and drink for children; Ofcom should liaise with Departments to monitor and assess its new restrictions on the advertising of unhealthy foods; there is scope for encouraging children to lead more active lifestyles, with local authorities and schools providing more public facilities, in 2003-04, 72 playing fields were created against 52 lost, while 131 swimming pools were opened against 27 closed. The background to this report offers a picture of increasing child obesity, with a steady rise in the number of children aged 2-10 who are obese, from 9.9% in 1995 to 13.4% in 2004. Overall it is estimated obesity already costs around £1 billion a year and the UK economy a further £2.3 to £2.6 billion in indirect costs.

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