Published: 9 June 2022
Public Health Wales has welcomed the launch of a consultation by Welsh Government aimed at developing new ideas for legislation to improve the health of young people, and to stop the rising rates of obesity in Wales
Launched by the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle, the consultation looks at ideas such as whether to restrict the sale of energy drinks for the under 16s, and limiting the availability of hot food takeaways near schools.
She also wants to hear people’s views on restricting the promotion of foods high in fat, sugar or salt, ending free refills on sugary drinks and expanding the publication of calories on menus.
In Wales, approximately 1.6 million adults are overweight and 655,000 people are obese. In addition, more than one in four of children in Wales are overweight or obese when they start primary school. It is estimated obesity costs the NHS £6.1 billion per year across the UK.
In addition, the rise in the consumption of high caffeine energy drinks, which can contain a lot of sugar, among young people is also causing concern about the effects on their education, wellbeing and their overall health.
The Welsh Government’s Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales strategy aims to make it easier for everyone to make healthier choices.
We welcome this consultation, which gives people the opportunity to share their views on a range of options and changes to legislation to help stop the rise in obesity in Wales and support people live healthier lives.
Dr Ilona Johnson, Consultant in Public Health for Public Health Wales, said:
“Currently in Wales more than half of the adult population experience overweight or obesity and over a quarter of children are overweight or obese by the time they start school. The measures in this consultation are about making it easier to make healthy choices.”
“Being overweight or obese increases our risk for a number of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, cancer and stroke, leading to poor health. We have public health programmes focussed on helping to support people achieve and maintain a healthy weight but we need to remember there is no magic bullet in tackling the problem of excess weight, it will require lots of measures all contributing collectively to change. Our review of the evidence shows us that these measures can make a difference on a population level to people’s behaviour and health. This consultation is extremely important for helping us to address the rising levels of people living with overweight and obesity across Wales.”
Information about the consultation, which runs until 1 September 2022, can be found here.