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MEDIA blogs from previous years

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30 April 2018

Tackling childhood obesity: what can we learn from other countries?

Tackling childhood obesity: what can we learn from other countries?

A blog from our Group Communications Manager, Sharon Fisher

Today, UK-based think tank 2020health published a new report Tackling Obesity – What the UK can learn from other countries’  which explores a number of different programmes and policy measures that are being implemented in other countries to tackle childhood obesity.

The report, which has been funded by an unrestricted educational grant from AB Sugar, focuses on ten innovative case studies across six countries – from Japan’s ‘metabo law’ weight intervention and its Shokuiku school lunch programme,  to the taxation policies imposed on products high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) in Hungary, Mexico and Berkeley in the US. The intention is for the research to inform discussions on potential measures and solutions which could be transferred into the UK as well as other countries facing an obesity crisis.

Whilst the report acknowledges that there remains a lack of evaluation data to answer the fundamental question: what works, it concludes that: “If the UK fails to implement joined-up, multi-sectoral obesity prevention strategies for children and their families across a range of local contexts, it has little hope in ever reversing the obesity epidemic among the wider population”.

The latest publication builds on two previous reports published by 2020health on the topic of obesity. The first report, Careless Eating, Costs Lives focused on a range of solutions, many of which were connected to diet.  The second report, Fat Chance? Exploring the evidence on who becomes obese, examined 16 data-sets to determine ‘who’ is obese in the UK and what are the determining correlates linked to rising levels of obesity.

New avenues of thinking

Whilst the three pieces of research focus on different aspects of obesity, what they collectively highlight is the complexity of the issue. Whilst there is a general consensus that there is no silver bullet when it comes to tackling obesity, we believe there remains a need to take a step back and look at obesity crisis in the widest possible context – considering all factors.  We believe it is only then that new avenues of thinking will emerge.

We hope that the 2020health research will be valuable in supporting policymakers around the world find innovative and holistic solutions which government – national, regional and local – working with the health lobby, food and drink manufacturers and consumers can get behind.

Our commitment to thriving and healthy communities – 2030 Commitments

As a responsible business, we remain committed to playing our part in helping find real, workable solutions to tackling the obesity crisis as well as helping address consumer confusion about what a balanced diet really means, based on accurate information and robust science. The unrestricted educational grants provided to 2020health are just one aspect of our activities in examining the wealth of current knowledge and data on obesity factors as part of our wider Making Sense of Sugar campaign.  Launched in 2014, the campaign aim is to provide factual information based on robust science to help inform and educate people in the UK about sugar and the role it can play as part of a healthy balanced diet.  To date, our campaign has had over 1.6 million views.

This campaign forms part of our Global Mind, Local Champions sustainability framework which is made up of three broad pillars of sustainability: building rural communities, thriving and healthy communities and consuming resources responsibility.  The thriving and healthy communities pillar includes the commitment we announced earlier this month to provide access to objective scientific advice on sugar, the diet and health to over 25 million people around the world by 2030. An ambitious target but we believe to tackle the obesity crisis we are facing globally, requires such ambition and profile. 

Notes to editors:

  • 2020health is an independent, social enterprise think tank whose mission is to “Make Health Personal” - Giving people the information, understanding and confidence to take a meaningful role in their health and wellbeing, and creating the conditions for a healthy society
  • For further information on the Making Sense of Sugar campaign, visit www.makingsenseofsugar.com or follow us on Twitter @senseofsugar
  • To read a copy of AB Sugar’s ‘Global Mind, Local Champions’ report detailing its bold set of Group-wide commitments to improve sustainability by 2030, please download from here

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