Health Officials in UK, Like US, Look to Curb Childhood Obesity

It is starting to become quite common knowledge that the processed foods we have grown accustomed to, today, are greatly contributing to a worldwide epidemic of lifestyle-related health conditions. Obesity, of course, is more rampant, as are things like heart disease, hypertension, and various types of cancers that would not otherwise be so prevalent. As health officials in the United States make an effort to help curb the dietary issues facing American, health officials in the United Kingdom are making similar efforts. The new plan, in the UK at least, is to help lessen the amount of calorie children take in by encouraging the reduction of calories in those food items most consumed by children.

This week, the UK Department of Health and Public Health England have, together, announced the next stage in a new program aimed to make a serious improvement towards fighting childhood obesity. Their plan will mostly affect ready-to-eat meals, pizzas, burgers, and other savory food items that are popular among small children and adolescents.

The new plan includes a $6.4 million (equivalent) investment in a new University College London obesity policy research unit. At this new unit, scientists will conduct comprehensive studies on the growing issue of childhood obesity in the UK: 1 in 3 children are either overweight or obese before they leave primary school.

Public Health England’s chief executive, Dunacn Selbie, notes, “A third of children leave primary school overweight or obese and an excess of calories is the root cause of this. We will work with the food companies and retailers to tackle this as the next critical step in combating our childhood obesity problem.”

In addition, Minister of State for Health, Philip Dunne, comments, “Too many of our children are growing up obese, which can lead to serious health conditions. With a third of children leaving primary school obese we must take a comprehensive approach and now focus on excess calories.”

Estimates put roughly 40,000 deaths per year, in England, can be simply attributed to being overweight or obese. That is about 10 percent of all deaths. Furthermore, health officials estimate that roughly 70,000 premature deaths, in England, could be prevented annually if more people adhered to dietary nutritional guidelines.

Finally, UCL Great Ormand Street Institute of Child Health Professor Russell Viner notes, “Obesity is one of the greatest health concerns of our time and we welcome this considerable and very timely investment from the government. Preventing obesity in early life is key to turning the tide on this modern epidemic.”

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