DOCTORS have called for an emergency ‘Cobra-style’ taskforce to tackle an imminent childhood obesity crisis.
The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) said a national Child Obesity Action Group should be set up ‘as a matter of urgency’, while a senior Lancashire medic called for politicians to pay less heed to junk food lobbyists.
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Figures published earlier this year showed nearly one in five Year 6 pupils in Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn and Pendle, are obese. This puts youngsters in the four boroughs among the fattest in Europe.
Dr David Wrigley, who represents Lancashire doctors on the British Medical Association, said: “It is vital there is a joined- up focus on obesity and everyone needs to play their part – doctors, politicians, the food industry, big supermarket chains and, of course, the advertising industry.
“If we all support and help our patients then we can tackle this increasing obesity problem. It is time our politicians acted in the best interests of patients rather than allow themselves to be persuaded by the well resourced food industry lobbyists.”
Dominic Harrison, director of public health at Blackburn with Darwen Council, has also been fiercely critical of the government’s lack of action in this area, and linked obesity to poverty.
He has suggested limiting the number of fast-food outlets in problem areas, as well as increasing the tax on sugary food and drinks.
Dr Rachel Pryke, clinical lead for nutrition at the RCGP, said: “Overweight children are being set up for a lifetime of sickness. We are in danger of destroying the health of a whole generation.
“As parents and health professionals, we need to take responsibility and ensure every child has a healthy and varied diet and regular exercise.
“We cannot allow our young people to become malnourished, squandering their childhood and vitality hunched over computer consoles and gorging on junk food.
“We have reached a state of emergency with childhood obesity and the current threat to public health is most definitely severe.”
The doctors point out that obesity can lead to cancer and many other diseases, including diabetes.