In her last act in the position, Prof Dame Sally Davies will recommend a range of measures to combat child obesity – including banning fast food adverts and reducing portion sizes. As part of an independent review commissioned by Health Secretary Matt Hancock in May, Dame Sally will warn that children are “drowning in a flood of unhealthy options, compounded by insufficient opportunities for being active”. Her report also reveals that Britain is nowhere near achieving the Government ambition to halve childhood obesity by 2030.
In the last year of primary school, an average of six children out of 30 are obese and a further four are overweight – double the number 30 years ago.
The Time to Solve Childhood Obesity report claims that up to 120,000 cases of childhood asthma may be caused by obesity.
Being overweight also leads to conditions including diabetes and bone and joint problems.
Dame Sally will say childhood obesity has become “the new normal” and add: “Over time, our environment has become very unhealthy without us realising. Our children are impacted as a result and are now suffering from potentially life-limiting diseases.”
Dame Sally also recommends extending the sugar tax on soft drinks to include milk drinks with added sugar.
This puts her at odds with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has strongly opposed a milkshake tax and said we should “encourage kids to generally do more exercise” instead.
But the report found children do not have enough opportunities to be active and said funding should be increased to promote walking and cycling.
Dame Sally, who was succeeded in the post by Prof Chris Whitty earlier this month, will say: “Our politicians need to be bold and help everyone embrace healthier life choices.”
The report was last night welcomed by health campaigners.
Prof Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “Children have a right to a healthy, happy childhood. It’s our job as adults to make that happen.”