Focus on fitness not fatness – Why food taxes are missing the point

Researcher at the University of Essex, children’s fitness expert Dr. Gavin Sandercock writes in BBC news that we have been looking at obesity the wrong way, leaving the harm generated by physical inactivity aside.


Dr. Sandercock points out that reports alerting on an “obesity time-bomb” are multiplying. But according to him, the extent of the problem is often exaggerated. Figures from the National Child Measurement Programme for 2010-2011 estimate that 9% of 5 to 6-year-olds are obese, that is, Dr. Sandercock says, 2.7 children out of 30 in a class. It was 1.5 in 1990. He underlines that an “epidemic” is a term corresponding to the increase of one child per class in 20 years and suggests that childhood obesity are somewhat plateauing (25 for 2-5-years-olds boys, 23% for girls between 2003 and 2013).


Furthermore, Dr. Sandercock says that public health keeps being focused on food and obesity, and overlooks physical activity. As dietary guidelines vary with time, some propose to tax “unhealthy foods” as a way to tackle obesity. He underlines that we are missing the point by putting the focus on taxes. Healthy eating cannot be the only answer to obesity: physical activity is the key feature to keep in mind.


Those observations are corroborated by studies made in Australia in 2011, by the Snowdon report “The Fat Lie” in 2014, and most recently by Ekelund et al. 2015.


Quoting the British Heart Foundation 2015 figures, Dr. Sandercock shows that none of 11-15 year-old girls do enough exercise, and only 7% for boys. He calls for 60 minutes of exercise for children and young people each day and praises iniatiatives on physical activity launched around UK. To conclude, he points out that physical activity will not solve all obesity issues, but will benefit to all.


The full article can be read here

Education not tax, Physical activity not tax, What others say: experts, Childhood obesity, Physical activity, Taxation, Australia, United Kingdom