To contribute expertise, literature or as an external reviewer, please contact Dr Sarah Bunn.

Childhood obesity and excess weight have serious implications for children’s physical and mental health. Data for England in 2018 shows that obesity prevalence was 9.7% in children aged 4rising to 20.2% for children aged 10 years. Prevalence was higher in boys and was almost double for children living in the most deprived areas. Obesity has a strong intergenerational effect: obese children are likely to have an obese parent, are likely to be obese in adulthood and their own children are at increased risk of obesity. The health impacts of obesity are significant, with increased risk of cardiovascular diseasesdiabetes, some cancers, and reduced life expectancyType 2 diabetes is becoming more common in children since the first eight cases were reported in 2000; in 2017 there were 700 children with the conditionThe NHS spends an estimated £5.1bn a year treating obesityrelated conditions in children and adults.  

While the primary cause of obesity is poor diet and inadequate physical activity, the contributing factors are complex and multifaceted, involving environmental, behavioural, genetic and epigenetic factors. This requires a complex, interconnected and cross-cutting policy response. Examples of interventions include bans on food advertising, food reformulation and taxation, improving nutritional standards in schools and implementing statutory healthbased education, access to evidence-based child health programmes, improving longitudinal research and evaluating policy impact. In 2018 the UK Government set out a strategy with a focus on improving children’s food, providing parents with better information about products, and changing how unhealthy food is advertised. 

A POSTnote on this topic will summarise the latest trends in children’s diet, obesity and related health conditions and review the impacts of previous policy changes such as the tax on sugar sweetened drinks. It will also examine the factors underlying the growing gap in outcomes for children from the most and least deprived backgrounds. The note will summarise the impact of each devolved nations approaches to reducing childhood obesity and highlight stakeholder views on future policy priorities. It will update the 2003 POSTnote on Childhood Obesity.

Contributing to a POSTnote as an expert

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