A new YouGov survey of British parents found 60% of children have not increased their physical activity since lockdown. Only 19% of children aged 1-5 get more than three hours of daily physical activity
Image: AFP via Getty Images)
Less than one in five kids under-6s are getting enough physical activity following the Covid-19 pandemic as new analysis forecasts 21 million UK adults will be obese by 2040.
A new YouGov survey of British parents found 60% of children have not increased their physical activity since lockdown.
Only 19% of children aged 1-5 get more than three hours of daily physical activity which is recommended for them to grow up healthy.
Separate analysis from Cancer Research UK forecasts that on current trends six million more UK adults will be obese by 2040 – 36% of the population.
The charity’s report projects that the percentage overweight or obese will rise from 64% to 71% – or 42 million adults increasing the burden on the NHS.
It comes days after Boris Johnson scrapped the Government’s obesity strategy under pressure from Tory backbenchers concerned with the “nanny state”.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is planning a protest outside Downing Street after a ban on BOGOF offers foods high in fat, salt and sugar in England was postponed for a year. Campaigners fear it may never happen if a General Election is on the horizon.
A ban on TV junk food adverts before a 9pm watershed has also been put on hold.
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “These projections should serve as a wake-up call to the Government about the state of our nation’s health.
“Ministers mustn’t keep kicking the can down the road when it comes to tackling the obesity crisis, delaying measures that will lead to healthier food options.
“I urge them to revisit this decision and take bold action on obesity, the second biggest preventable risk factor for cancer in the UK.”
The Early Intervention Foundation’s 2021 report, which commissioned the poll of parents, found cost is a particular factor preventing more physical activity amongst children under six.
The cost of living crisis therefore could discourage less well off parents from taking young children to indoor or outdoor play areas, such as public parks, indoor play centres and children’s centres.
The Cancer Research report suggests the number of people who are obese could overtake the number who are a healthy weight by as early as the late 2020s in England and late 2030s in Northern Ireland.
For Scotland and Wales, the crossover is not expected to happen before 2040.
Prevalence of severe obesity – a body mass index above 40- is expected to almost double across the UK from 3% to 6%.
According to the report, overweight rates appear to have plateaued for now but obesity is still climbing.
Among women, around 60% are currently overweight or obese but this is projected to rise to 67% by 2040.
Among men, 74% will be overweight or obese by 2040, up from 68% now.
Dr Julie Sharp, head of health at Cancer Research UK, said: “Obesity is a complex issue and the world around us can make it very difficult to keep a healthy weight.
“Government action is key in making sure that the healthy option is readily available and affordable.”