Our opening talks at the JFH Briefing tomorrow (March 28 at London's ILEC centre) are fortuitously timed to run, following the Health Select Committee's follow up report on childhood obesity.
The Health committee recommends "robust action" action across a variety of areas. In the report, entitled Childhood Obesity: Follow-Up, the committee said that the introduction of regulations designed to reduce unhealthy diets such as the soft drinks levy were welcome, but much more needs to be done to push manufacturers to lower the content of sugar and portion size of their products. To face the problem effectively, it was recommended that the government set clear goals of how it will implement its childhood obesity strategy that was published in August 2016, but has yet to be acted upon effectively.
Chair of the health committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP said that the committee was "extremely disappointed" that Whitehall had ignored a number of its past recommendations:
"These omissions mean that the current plan misses important opportunities to tackle childhood obesity," she explained. "Vague statements about seeing how the current plan turns out are inadequate to the seriousness and urgency of this major public health challenge.
"The government must set clear goals for reducing overall levels of childhood obesity as well as goals for reducing the unacceptable and widening levels of inequality."
Professor Russell Viner, Officer for Health Promotion at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, responded to the report findings, saying:
"The fight against obesity is going to be long and hard - and the Health Committee is right; without action across a number of areas, any impact of individual policies will be minimal. The sugar tax is a significant step in the right direction, and the targets set to reduce sugar from a range of products are also welcome. But both these measures must be carefully monitored to ensure industry is complying and that there is a real change in consumption. We've said time and again that it was an error for Government to exclude TV junk food advertising restrictions in their Obesity Plan. We know these adverts have an effect on the type of food children consume, and experts from across the health sector, parents and the Health Select Committee agree that a ban prior to the 9pm watershed is vital to help tackle the obesity crisis."
Pinki Sahota - who will open tomorrow's day of talks - concurred, having recently blogged her thoughts for the Early Years Nutrition Partnership, saying:
"Recent steps to ban some junk food advertising in print and online media are encouraging, although clearly more could be done. We can make a real difference to children's futures if we start encouraging good nutrition from a very early age. Good habits that are established and ingrained when children are young are more likely to be maintained throughout life."
Lindsay Gilbert from Foodtalk, who will also speak at our event, had this to add:
"It is well established that the nutrition a child receives in their first 1000 days of life (from conception to their second birthday) has a huge effect on how that child grows and develops, and that this has far reaching implications for a child's health and wellbeing for the rest of their lives.
"Up to 20% of women develop a mental health problem during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth, a quite shocking statistic which could seriously jeopardise the health gains for the infant during this time. What most people don't know is the impact a mother's mental health can have on infant feeding - breastfeeding, attachment and even parenting styles.
"Thankfully mental health is moving up the public health agenda and I hope in my presentation to be able to not only explore the evidence around the topic but highlight the need for practitioners to diagnose and refer vulnerable women and also suggest frontline nutrition advice to support mothers during those early weeks and months."
There is still time to book your ticket to our event and hear Professor Sahota, Lindsay Gilbert, and other eminent experts speak on obesity, as well as talks from safeguarding, dermatology and clean air experts: