Is the Mayor doing enough to reduce childhood obesity in London?

28 October 2010

Childhood obesity rates in London are higher than the national average with one in five youngsters in the capital classed as obese [1].  What role should the Mayor play in tackling this issue?

The London Assembly’s Health and Public Services Committee is next week holding a public hearing as part of its investigation into childhood obesity which will examine the Mayor’s strategies and initiatives that aim to tackle the problem.

As well as levels across London being above the national average, in three boroughs - Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Lambeth - rates of obesity for 10-11 year olds are higher than anywhere else in the UK with more than a quarter classed as obese[2].

The Committee will look at how the Mayor’s initiatives - including his Health Inequalities Strategy, Food Strategy, Sports Strategy and the London Plan - fit into the bigger picture and assess whether there is more he should be doing.

James Cleverly, AM, Chair of the Health and Public Services Committee, said: “Childhood obesity has reached worrying levels in London to become a major public health concern. Obesity is already a significant drain on public finances and child obesity is a known risk factor for many future problems such as heart disease, some cancers and diabetes.

“The Mayor has taken steps to tackle this issue but we need to look at how these fit with what is already happening at a national, regional and local level. We also need to understand what his overall vision is and whether there are other things he should or could be doing to help reduce childhood obesity rates in the capital.”

As part of the investigation, Committee Chair James Cleverly and Deputy Chair Navin Shah met with the Lynk Up Crew[3] - a group of seven to 15-year-olds who help advise the Mayor on young people’s issues - on Saturday October 23 to hear their views on the issue. View a short video here.

The Committee’s public meeting to discuss childhood obesity with invited guests, including the Mayoral advisors on health and youth opportunities, food and sport, takes place on Wednesday, November 3 at 2.30pm in City Hall. A full report of the findings is due to be published early in 2011.

Notes for Editors:

  1. The National Child Measurement Programme 2008-09, available here, shows that 21 per cent of year six pupils in London are obese, compared to 18 per cent in England. See – Table 3 – Percentages of Year 6 pupils classified as obese. Obesity is defined as being at or above the 95th percentile for Body Mass Index (BMI).
  2. See the National Child Measurement Programme 2008-09 – Table 3 – Percentages of Year 6 pupils classified as obese, which is available here
  3. The Lynk Up Crew is junior version of the Peer Outreach Team - a group of young Londoners who work on behalf of the Mayor. More information on the GLA’s youth engagement work can be found here
  4. The investigation will focus on children aged 0 to 15. Further details are outlined in a scoping paper which is available here.
  5. James Cleverly, Chair of the Health and Public Services Committee is available for interview. See contact details below
  6. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Julie Wheldon/Lisa Moore on 020 7983 4228/4283.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officerNon-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.