Obesity costing councils half a billion

Since local councils took control of public health from the NHS three years ago, the fight against obesity has cost over £500 million.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has said that local authorities anticipate having spent £505 million tackling obesity in adults and children, following the transfer of public health responsibility in April 2013.

Additionally, newly published figures show that the figures councils expect to spend on tacking obesity are forecast to be £127 million in 2016/17 – down on the £140 million estimated in 2015/16. Councils spent £126 million in 2014/15 and £112 million in 2013/14 on tackling obesity.

The government's National Child Measurement Programme has calculated that one in 10 four and five-year-olds are obese, while that figure changes to one in five 10 and 11-year-olds. In the current climate, the overall cost to the economy of obesity and overweight conditions could increase from between £6 billion and £8 billion in 2015 to between £10 billion and £12 billion in 2030.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the LGA's community and well-being spokesperson, said: “The staggering amount of money councils are having to plough into obesity prevention work shows the sheer scale of the crisis we face. Councils are without doubt the best placed to tackle obesity before it becomes a problem, and the huge investment they are making shows how committed they are to dealing with the issue.

"But we would like assurances from the government's new administration that the long-awaited childhood obesity strategy is still on track and that it includes tough measures that will help to reverse the rise in costs and children becoming obese. Today's obese children will be tomorrow's obese adults, and with this comes a range of costly and debilitating major health conditions."