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Government Initiatives To Halt Child Obesity, Needs Clarity Of Purpose

The initiative to curb rising obesity rates by 2010 will fall flat on its face, unless the government takes a leading step in this area, according to a recent study// . Though local level work is going on in good measure, governments need to sort out the confusion about the thrust given to this area. The public Health Minister, Caroline Flint has confirmed the measures being taken, still there is lots left to be done. Obesity has sent the NHS expenditure sky rocketing almost £1bn a year

The statistics say that the number of obese children has gone up from 9.6% in 1995 to 13.7% in 2003. The overall cost of obesity to the NHS is estimated at £1bn, and the motive should be to reverse the trend, and not just halt it, said Paul Sacher, of the Institute of Child Health.

The NHS targets were defined as early as 2004, to combat childhood obesity, yet with so much elapsed time, campaign plans have still not made it to the table. The proposed guideline of primary care trusts for measuring children was published as late as January, which essentially means that youngsters will be assessed not until summer to make the results available only during the next year.

The mantle of responsibility belongs to the Department of Health, Department for Education and Skills and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which stipulates that the rising rates of obesity for children under the age of 11 must halt by 2010. The lack of guidance at the appropriate time is perhaps because the authorities themselves were unclear of the objectives.

Paul Sacher, founder of the Institute of Child Health's Mend Programme, said “ We should be trying to reverse the trend, not just halt it. We have shown that if you address diet, exercise and behavior you can make a difference. But to date we have had little lead by the government, it has been too slow."


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