Cuts to public health budgets could impact obesity fight

The slashing of public health budgets could have a detrimental impact on the ability of councils to tackle obesity…

Public health budget cuts could prevent councils from providing schemes aimed at helping people to lose weight.

According to recent figures, one in 10 children aged four and five was classed as obese in 2014/15. One in five children aged 10 to 11 fell into this category as well. Figures are expected to increase in the future.

Currently, many local authorities use some public health funding to pay for exercise schemes, weight management services, and free leisure facilities. Cutting these budgets could make it difficult for councils to help tackle obesity.

Councils gained responsibility for public health services in April 2013. According to figures from the Local Government Association (LGA), the organisation that represents councils across England and Wales, some £505m will have been spent by 2017 fighting obesity. The LGA receives government funding to spend on public health. This figure is set to fall from £3.38bn in 2016/17 to £3.13bn in 2020/21. The LGA said it was set to spend around half a billion on preventing obesity in adults and children, with £112m spent in 2013/14; £126m in 2014/15; £140m in 2015/16; and £127m to be spent in 2016/17.

The LGA’s Izzi Seccombe, who has responsibility for community wellbeing, said councils need more support.

“We would like assurances from the government’s new administration that the long-awaited childhood obesity strategy is still on track and that it includes tough measures that will help to reverse the rise in costs and children becoming obese.

“Today’s obese children will be tomorrow’s obese adults, and with this comes a range of costly and debilitating major health conditions.”


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