Adult and Childhood Obesity

Images of Hight fat, sugar and salt foods, such as Pizza, Cake and Soda


The BDA is joining other organisations in calling on the UK government to take firm action to tackle adult and childhood obesity.  

The Issue

Obesity is a public health crisis that threatens to damage the futures of millions of UK children and already affects the lives of many UK adults. Obesity as a whole is estimated to have cost the NHS £6.3 billion in 2015. In 2016/17, 20% of children aged 10-11 were obese with 9.6% of children already obese in reception. By the time people reach adulthood, 25.6% of the population are living with obesity, with a further 36.1% with overweight. Once children have obese it is very difficult to treat and when they become adults they are more likely to have obesity and suffer a higher risk of morbidity, disability, and premature mortality.

What the BDA is doing

In England the BDA is pushing for strong action on adult and childhood obesity and supported the introduction of levy for sugar-sweetened drinks across the UK. We have welcomed consultations on many more key policies in Chapter 2 of the Childhood Obesity Plan for Action, released in June 2018. 

We continue to work with Public Health England (PHE) and others to ensure that the plan has as much impact as possible in England, including on the sugar reduction programme. However, we have expressed our concern after the last update shows progress had been extremely slow. 

We continue to support the the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which came into effect from 5th April 2018. This will not on its own solve the obesity crisis but it is a positive sign of intent and a step in the right direction. UNICEF have published an analysis of the effectiveness of sugar taxes and their implementation

The BDA is also supporting efforts to ban the sale of energy drinks to under 18s, which was included as part of Chapter 2 of the childhood obesity plan. Read our consultation response here, and see the evidence submitted both orally and in writing to the Commons Science and Technology Commitee on this topic in summer 2018. We continue to work with the Obesity Health Alliance to push for more action. 

In Scotland, the government has published their final Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan, which has been welcomed by the BDA Scotland Board. It includes specific commitments to increase access to effective weight management services, improve the food environment and provide funding for support to children and throughout the lifecourse. 

You can read our response to the consultation on the strategy here. A number of local dietetic departments also submitted excellent consultation responses. The issue was also debated in the Scottish Parliament in February 2018.

In Wales, the Public Health (Wales) Act committed the government to develop a 'National strategy on preventing and reducing obesity'. This was published in October 2019 as 'Healthy Weight, Healthy Wales', and you can read our response here. The BDA will continue to work with colleagues from the NHS Confederation as part of the Obesity Alliance Cymru in order to make sure the positive ideas in HWHW become reality. Read our headline asks document here, and our "scorecard" of the strategy

In Northern Ireland, the 'Fitter Future for All' strategy has been in place since 2012. Now into its final phase, the CMO for NI recently published the outcomes for the period 2019-2022. 88% of the short term outcomes are currently on track for delivery. 

What we need members to do to help

We want you to make the case for robust and comprehensive obesity policy, with dietitians at its heart. You could write to your local political representatives to outline your support for specific policies. 

In England, Scotland and Wales, the governments have published and are in the process of implementing diet and obesity strategies. When they are consulting on aspects of these strategies, we would urge members to contact their local politicians in support of them and the role dietitians should play within them. 

If local authorities are planning cuts or changes to public health interventions in your local area - in particular in relation to child weight management - we'd urge you to get in touch with us. 

Further information 


UK Government:

  • The Department of Health has now launched a Reducing Childhood Obesity website, bringing together all their work on this policy.
  • The Department of Education has confirmed that £415 million of the income from the Sugar Levy was made available in 2018-19 for schools to encourage more healthy, active lifestyles in England. They also confirmed this funding will be made available even if the levy does not bring in the expected revenue. 

Obesity Health Alliance:

Public Health England:


This theme applies in

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