Less than 1% of public health budget is used to treat obesity in children

Only 2.5 per cent of local council budgets are used to treat adult obesity

A minute amount of money is being used to combat childhood obesity, despite it being a top health priority, according to new figures released Monday.

The disclosure is fuelling fears of an impending obesity crisis within a generation.

For less than one per cent of local council public health budgets is being allocated towards treating children. Figures obtained by Freedom of Information requests found just 2.5 per cent of local council budgets were spent treating adult obesity and even less – 0.9 per cent – in children.

The figures, which incorporate responses from 109 local authorities across England and Wales, are dwarfed by budgets allocated towards tackling other issues such as substance misuse (29 per cent according to the study) and sexual health (21 per cent).

Doctors fear that a lack of priority in treating childhood obesity is accelerating previous forecasts that suggest half the British population will be obese by 2050. More than 70 children have reportedly been put into care in the last five years because they are morbidly obese.

Local authorities were allocated responsibility for public health in April last year, under NHS reforms which aimed to make councils do more to promote healthy living. But Monday’s report, released by obesity charity Hoop, calls for Whitehall to claw back control in a “last-ditch effort to defuse the obesity timebomb”.

Jill Tipton, the charity’s co-director and a spokeswoman, said: “This report echoes the experiences of our members that quality obesity services are not available. It is hard to understand why other public health issues take a disproportionate share of the public health allocation when the direct and indirect costs of obesity are so much higher.” 

Tam Fry, a spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said: "There were previously good treatments for children which were effective and relied on charitable money. But the Department of Health has refused to fund them properly and left local authorities to cope as best they could. Many simply haven’t been able to come up to scratch.

“Now as obesity becomes the biggest timebomb for the health of our population we have got councils who are not in a position to make it a priority.”

Laurence Buckman, the former BMA General Practitioners Committee chair, told The Independent: “Obesity used to be the disease of old men – now it’s that of children and we have to move to tackle it much earlier. But every council is effectively bankrupt and cannot be expected to sort it out. Instead of being expected to manage obesity services it would be good see them combat the availability of junk food in their local area.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: "As a country we need to wake up to the obesity time bomb - and that includes local councils as well. With the freedoms they now have and a ring fenced public health budget, they must make sure they give it the appropriate priority."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine