'More a minor skirmish than a war on obesity‘: The King's Fund responds to the government obesity plan

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Responding to the published government obesity plan, David Buck, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund, said:

‘Today’s plan is more a minor skirmish than a war on obesity.

‘Obesity has significant consequences for individuals, the NHS, the economy and society – tackling it requires the use of every tool in the box. While the measures announced today are a positive step forward, most of them are long overdue and do not add up to a comprehensive strategy.

‘The plan includes some welcome measures including calorie labelling and curbs on unhealthy food advertising. However, it fails to build on the success of the smoking ban and the sugary drinks levy in using stronger tax and regulation to promote healthier food and encourage food reformulation. The government has also shied away from giving councils stronger planning powers, for example, to curb the number of fast-food outlets near schools, and has not provided additional funding to local authorities to implement local weight-loss initiatives, despite cuts to public health budgets that have forced councils to scale back these services.

‘Some politicians and commentators may baulk at the idea of the ‘nanny state’, but when presented with specific actions, polling shows that the public are supportive of stronger government intervention.’

Notes to editors

For further information, or to request an interview, please contact the Press and Public Affairs team on 07584 146035 or mediaoffice@kingsfund.org.uk.

  • The King’s Fund recently published a briefing on the role taxes and regulation play in promoting better health.
  • In a joint briefing, The King’s Fund, the Health Foundation, the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Nuffield Trust published polling data on government health interventions.
  • The polling found that 62 per cent of UK adults aged 15 or over support the soft drinks levy and 70 per cent support limiting fast-food outlets in areas near schools.

The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.