Experts launch anti-obesity battle

Andover Advertiser: A quarter of women and just over a fifth of men in the UK are now classed as obese A quarter of women and just over a fifth of men in the UK are now classed as obese

Surgeons, psychiatrists, paediatricians and GPs have launched a campaign to battle rising levels of obesity, saying current strategies are not working.

The Academy of Royal Medical Colleges (AoMRC), the body that represents every doctor in the country, is beginning a three-month evidence-gathering inquiry to look for research and strategies that work in preventing or reducing obesity.

The inquiry will look at action that can be taken by individuals, including diet, exercise and parenting, as well as the impact of advertising, food labelling and sponsorship. It will also examine clinical interventions, financial measures such as taxation and minimum pricing and education.

The campaign will be chaired by Professor Terence Stephenson, vice-chairman of the AoMRC and president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. He said the campaign would see medical professionals coming together in an unprecedented way.

"Our starting point is the collective desire to ensure the healthcare profession is doing all it can to detect, treat, manage - and ultimately prevent - obesity. It is unprecedented that the medical royal colleges and faculties have come together on such a high-profile public health issue. But we've done so because we recognise the huge crisis waiting to happen and believe that current strategies to reduce obesity are failing to have a significant impact."

He added: "Speaking with one voice we have a more of a chance of preventing generation after generation falling victim to obesity-related illnesses and death."

A quarter of women (24%) and just over a fifth of men (22%) in the UK are now classed as obese, giving Britain the highest rate of obesity in Europe. One in three children are overweight or obese by the age of nine.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "The call from the Academy of Royal Colleges follows our obesity Call to Action last year, from which we are already seeing results. The Academy clearly shares our view that the need for action is urgent. Our Call to Action is mobilising a response and we welcome the medical profession's commitment."

"We are committed to identifying the best possible evidence of what works in tackling obesity and pulling together the evidence will be a key task for Public Health England, the new body we are setting up from April 2013."

A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola said: "As one of the longest, continuous sponsors of the Olympic Movement, we are proud that we are able to use our sponsorship to enable millions of people to experience the Games and believe we have a valid role to play. As well as sharing expertise, without the support of sponsors such as Coca-Cola, as many as 170 of the 200 National Olympic Committees would be unable to send athletes to compete."

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