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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

East15 Acting School: Finance and Contracts Officer

£20,781 to £24,057 per annum: East15 Acting School: The post involves general ...

Recruitment Genius: PA / Sales and Training Administrator

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Support Manager

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager - Heli Ski Specialist

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen