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Readers’ panel: Is the childhood obesity strategy too weak to make a difference?

The long-awaited childhood obesity strategy was published this month (August) to a chorus of criticism, with many claiming the government had rowed back on promises of tougher action. Nursing Standard readers have their say. 

The long-awaited childhood obesity strategy was published this month to a chorus of criticism, with many claiming the government had rowed back on promises of tougher action. Nursing Standard readers have their say.


Jane Brown, quality governance manager, clinical support, Worcestershire Acute NHS Trust
Jane Brown
Jane Brown

This strategy is far too weak. A soft drinks levy will come into force in 2018, but why can’t this be implemented now? And why do we have to wait four years until 2020 for the food and drinks industry to make a 20% reduction – which is voluntary – in sugar in products popular with children?

We cannot wait for the government to take action, we need to tackle this growing problem now. It will only get worse if we don’t, with children developing irreversible medical conditions related to obesity.


Daniel Athey, acute medical unit charge nurse, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
Daniel Athey
Daniel Athey

The strategy focuses on the wrong issues and seems to be floundering in a middle ground of education and enforcement.

I feel that a large portion of responsibility has to lie with parents. Sugary drinks are not new, and expecting a nanny state to regulate food and drink because people are too ignorant to look at what they’re consuming is not the answer.

Don't restrict what’s available, teach people that three gallons of cola isn't good for you.


Steve Flatt, director of the psychological therapies unit, Liverpool
Steve Flatt
Steve Flatt

The road to ruin is paved with good intentions. This is yet another simplistic, one-dimensional policy aimed at appearing to do something while not affecting vested interests.

We cannot expect that challenging one aspect – reducing sugar in food and drink – will solve such a massive problem. Obesity affects culture, economics and wellbeing, and neither voluntary codes nor regulation will have an impact on a way of life that makes vast profits for corporations and is a huge pleasure to so many.


Linda Drake, practice nurse, south London
Linda Drake
Linda Drake

This is a massive wasted opportunity in the fight against obesity-related illnesses.

Obesity has a strong correlation with deprivation and poverty. By neglecting to include fiscal and economic measures in the strategy to support real change, prime minister Theresa May has sent out a disappointingly clear message that her government only pays lip service to reducing inequalities.

Equally unfortunate is the obvious power dynamic between the government and the food industry. It is shameful how the economy takes precedence over the health of the nation.


Readers' panel members give their views in a personal capacity and do not represent their organisations.

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