Ed Morrow, PR & Campaigns Manager, RSPH

Thu 23rd Jun 2016

YHM, Royal Society for Public Health and Slimming World teamed up to create the Child Obesity Strategy, developed by a survey of more than 500 children and a small workshop of young people aged 13-17.
Key findings of the report include:

  • 1 in 4 young people have ordered food to their school
  • More than half of young people ordered food via their smartphone
  • Most young people (82%) think food manufacturers are misleading on food packaging
  • Almost half of young people can walk to somewhere from school selling unhealthy food

The report also asked young people for ideas on how to tackle childhood obesity in the UK:

  • Ban fast food companies from delivering to schools (supported by 50%)
  • Less jargon and easier to understand nutrition information on food packaging (87%)
  • More clear information of the amount of sugar in soft and fizzy drinks (84%)
  • Nutritional information should be for the whole product, not per serving (82%)
  • Supermarkets should provide ‘wonky’ fruit and vegetables to kids for free (80%)
  • Introduce a loyalty card scheme for healthy food choices (78%)
  • Position unhealthy food and drink away from children’s eye line (53%)


As a child who has struggled with my
weight I know how difficult being
overweight at a young age can be.”

Thomas Munnelly, 16, took part in developing the report and used to struggle with his weight before he joined Slimming World’s Family Affair healthy lifestyle programme with his mum and with permission from a doctor. Since losing 3st his life has changed dramatically. He said:

“As a child who has struggled with my weight I know how difficult being overweight at a young age can be. I hated how I looked in pictures and finding clothes that looked good was really hard. It’s definitely easier for young people to make unhealthy choices rather than healthy ones – at my school we have several unhealthy takeaways within a few minutes’ walk, a shop round the corner selling sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks and kids selling unhealthy food out of their school bags at break times. I was lucky enough to find a programme that taught me about healthy eating and getting more active. Now I help my mum plan the food shop and do a lot of the cooking too. My life has changed massively and I can now look forward to a healthy future, but not all kids are as lucky. We’re the next generation, so if something isn’t done now then in a few years’ time, today’s children will pass their unhealthy habits on to their young families. If we tackle it now though, we can change things before it comes to that.”

Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive, RSPH, said:

“Our childhood obesity rates are disappointing, and tackling this must be a priority for government – there can be no excuses for fudging action on what is our number one public health challenge. While we welcome the Government’s introduction of a sugar levy on soft drinks, it is absolutely critical that the forthcoming childhood obesity strategy builds on this positive step with a basket of hard-hitting measures, from greater controls on advertising and marketing of junk food to foo reformulation. This report gives a uniquely young person’s perspective on what steps can and should be taken, and while there is no silver bullet, young people are very clear what they think the causes of obesity are, and what action they would like to see from government and industry in particular.” 

For further information and interviews with young people or spokespeople, please contact:

Ed Morrow, PR & Campaigns Manager, RSPH / 020 7265 7326 / 07464 925 43