The UK is in the grip of an obesity epidemic, and unless it is stopped in its tracks, this crisis is set to become a catastrophe.

Nearly one in five 10-11 year olds (19.1%) is obese, and the Government’s childhood obesity strategy has been promised this summer. It has said that it wants its publication to be a 'game-changing moment' and we welcome its imminent arrival.

Industry, politicians, health professionals, academics and celebrities have been consulted in the process of developing the strategy; but have young people themselves been asked what they think? RSPH and Slimming World did just that, and the results make fascinating reading.

In this report, we share what young people have to say about some of the ideas that the government think will help to solve the obesity epidemic, and reveal what teenagers would do if they were in charge.

Key findings

  • Almost half of young people (49%) blame fast food takeaways as the companies or brands most at fault for childhood obesity
  • A quarter (25%) of young people have ordered a takeaway to their school; half of young people (50%) have ordered a takeaway via their smartphone
  • More than four in five (82%) think food manufacturers are misleading people when they provide fat, salt and sugar for single servings rather than for the entire product
  • More than two in five (42%) can walk from their school to somewhere selling unhealthy food in under two minutes.

Recommendations

  • Fast food firms should be banned from delivering to schools (supported by 50%)
  • Nutrition information on food packaging should be provided specifically for young people, not just for adults (supported by 87%)
  • The number of teaspoons of sugar a soft drink contains should be displayed on the packaging (supported by 84%)
  • Packaging should display nutrition information for the whole product, not per serving (supported by 82%)
  • Supermarkets should give out ‘wonky’ fruit and veg to kids for free in their shops to limit pester power (supported by 80%)
  • A loyalty card that gives points for healthy food choices should be made available (supported by 78%)
  • Unhealthy food should be positioned away from the eye line of children to limit pester power (supported by 53%)
  • Food that is high in fat, salt or sugar could display film-style classifications such as PG, 12, 15 (supported by 33%)
  • Free Wi-Fi should be offered in healthy environments like parks, rather than in fast food restaurants (32% say they have gone to a fast food takeaway specifically because they offer free Wi-Fi)

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