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Council spending on obesity up 21% – LGA

Council spending on tackling obesity is set to reach over £127m this year, a 21% increase on the previous year’s figures when councils in England spent £105m, according to the Local Government Association (LGA). 

The Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, added that the ‘obesity epidemic’ is likely to cost the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds – unless the government  “makes a significant injection of resource to help find ways to ensure we avoid an even worse situation in the next 30 years”. 

It has been reported that almost 30% of two to 15 year olds are obese or overweight, with the UK having one of the highest obesity levels in Western Europe. 

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Obesity is the greatest public health emergency we face today and something must be done urgently to tackle the issue. Our children deserve better than a future of poor health, but it is too late to act when the damage has already been done. 

“Councils are already doing what they can, but they need to be properly resourced to make a real difference. The extra £22m funding that councils have committed to tackling obesity is enough to pay for over 700 social workers at a time when councils are experiencing 40%.” 

She added that councils are doing what they can within their limited resources. In order to help them further, the LGA is calling for a fifth of the current VAT from the sales of fast food, soft drinks and confectionery to be used to directly confront the issue. 

It is expected that the extra £1bn that would be generated could be used by councils to help transform the lives of millions of overweight or obese children. 

“Using money that the government raises through the VAT from unhealthy food and drinks could directly transform the lives of three and a half million overweight young people and would be a much better use of funds rather than just boosting the Treasury pot,” said Cllr Seccombe. 

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