Our policy on obesity and diet


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Obesity is a complex issue with many causes, but one of the biggest influences is the world we live in.

Why are we focusing on childhood obesity?

Overweight and obesity is the second biggest cause of cancer in the UK after smoking and is linked to 13 types of cancer. More than 1 in 20 cancer cases are caused by excess weight (22,800 cases a year in the UK) and the risk increases with the amount of excess weight. CRUK analysis estimates over 21 million UK adults will be obese by 2040. A child who is obese is around five times more likely to be obese in adulthood; so acting early is critical.

Obesity Health Alliance

The Obesity Health Alliance is a coalition of over 50 health organisations, including Cancer Research UK, who have joined together to advocate for policies to improve population health and address obesity in England and at a UK-wide level.

The Obesity Health Alliance has three main asks of the next UK Government:

  1. Give children’s health the priority it deserves – including renewing the commitment to halve childhood obesity by 2030, alongside tangible measures to achieve this.
  2. Build on the success of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to design further fiscal measures that incentivise industry to sell healthier food and drink options and to invest revenue raised in funding policies to improve children’s health, especially for people on lower incomes.
  3. Empower local communities to make the places they live healthier. Do this by updating planning laws to enable local authorities to increase the number of healthy food and drink options and reduce the prevalence of unhealthy food outlets. And do this by increasing the powers of local authorities to tackle the flood of unhealthy food and drink advertising in outdoor areas, especially near places children congregate.

Partners in Devolved Nations

Cancer Research UK works closely with advocacy alliances and other partners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to help support the introduction of policies that would help reduce the rates of overweight and obesity in those nations.

The Scottish Obesity Alliance: a forum for organisations to collaborate to influence policy and practice on obesity prevention in Scotland. The Scottish Obesity Alliance works together to influence the Scottish and UK Government’s policies on overweight and obesity, through advocacy and communication, identifying evidence and solutions, sharing knowledge and evidence between members.

Obesity Alliance Cymru: a group of leading national charities, professional bodies, campaign groups and membership bodies working together to support public health in Wales. The Obesity Alliance Cymru is a forum for organisations to collaborate and influence policy on preventing and reducing obesity in Wales.