Tackling Childhood Obesity

Government needs to take action to tackle children's obesity

One in five children are overweight or obese when they start primary school. Worringly by the time they leave, that figure rises to one in three.

To highlight the staggeringly high level of children’s obesity and epidemic of rising ill-health, we transformed a shop front into an XL school uniform shop to show the new norm of larger school uniforms.

You can help us tackle children’s obesity by emailing your MP today asking them to put pressure on the Prime Minister to extend restrictions to junk food TV advertising before 9pm.


The Childhood Obesity Plan

Since the General Election the Government has championed the need for a comprehensive strategy to tackle children’s obesity. The plan released in August is a missed opportunity in that fight.

While the inclusion of the 'sugar levy' in the plan and the commitments to increase physical activity are promising, we need much stronger action to protect children from junk food advertising if we want to make a difference.

The evidence is clear – children who are exposed to junk food adverts are more likely to eat unhealthy food. Television channels in the UK already aren't allowed to show unhealthy adverts around children's programmes. We want the Government to extend this to include programmes that families watch together – this measure would more than halve children's exposure to this advertising. 

Why are we worried about obesity?

Being overweight or obese is the single biggest cause of preventable cancer in the UK after smoking. And it’s linked to ten types of cancer. If we’re going to reduce the number of people being diagnosed with cancer every year, we need to tackle the preventable causes of the disease.

Right now, we’re focusing on children because evidence shows that people who are obese as a child are more likely to be so as an adult. We want to help give children the best start in life and reduce their risk of developing cancer in their lifetime.

How can you help us make sure the Government does more to tackle children’s obesity?

This strategy is a missed opportunity to protect the next generation from diseases like cancer, and reduce the crippling burden of obesity on the NHS.

We need the ‘game-changing’ strategy the Government promised a year ago.

Email your MP today and ask them to put pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May to extend restrictions to junk food TV advertising before 9pm.

Email your MP

Want to know more?

These questions may also answer what you’re looking for, but if not please email campaigning@cancer.org.uk.


Overweight and obesity are measured by a person’s body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in metres squared. Overweight is defined as having a BMI between 25.0 and 29.9. Obesity is defined as having a BMI of 30 or over.

BMI = weight (in Kg) / height (in M2)

For children, it’s a bit more complicated because things like whether or not they have started puberty are also important. So their age is also taken into account and they BMI is converted into a ‘centile’, like those used on children’s growth charts.

Current evidence suggests that the more excess weight someone is carrying, the greater their risk of developing diseases linked to obesity such as cancer.

Absolutely. Removing junk food marketing on TV before 9pm can only be introduced across the UK as a result of action in Westminster. The Scottish Government and Welsh Assemblies have shown a willingness to tackle junk food marketing on TV, so we really want them to keep the pressure up on Westminster to act. Demonstrating support across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be crucial to make the case for a TV ban to be introduced.

Obesity is linked to ten types of cancer. The full list of cancers caused by obesity is: breast, bowel, pancreatic, oesophageal (food pipe), liver, kidney and womb cancer, whilst it could also cause gallbladder, advanced prostate and ovarian cancers.

Find out more about the evidence for the link between obesity and cancer.

Take Action

Help us put pressure on the Prime Minister to tackle children's obesity. 


Email your MP

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