Children’s diets are attracting lots of attention at the moment. To support your work, we have two important updates on Healthy Early Years Diets to share with you this week:

OHA position paper

The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA), of which iHV is a member, has published its new joint position paper: Healthy Early Years Diets: Achieving the Best Start in Life

In this document, OHA outlines the steps that the government should take to enable children to grow up healthily.  The recommendations cover three areas

  1. Enabling families to feed their babies & young children healthy diets
  2. Supporting early years settings to provide nutritious food & drink
  3. Investing in the foundations for health in the early years.

This document is published ahead of OHA’s meeting with Public Health Minister, Dame Andrea Leadsom MP, later this month.

The Food Foundation’s animation

The Food Foundation’s excellent new animation Nourishing the Nation: A shared vision of a brighter future calls on policy makers to take decisive action to reshape the food system in election year.  Social media assets and social media pack with suggested posts and more information is available here.

The Food Foundation wants as many people as possible to have their say and join the conversation about what can be done to build a food system where healthy and sustainable food is accessible to all.

If you could help to make a noise on social media by doing the following things:

  • Like and share the animation on your social channels
  • When you post the video, share one thing you’d like to see change about the food system e.g. Free school meals for all/ a high street where fresh, locally sourced veg is the cheaper option/ a community garden in every new housing development/ adverts for carrots on TV!
  • Tag The Food Foundation and your local MP or a minister of a relevant department to make sure they see the video and use the hashtags #NourishingTheNation and #MyFoodVision

The Institute of Health Visiting joins leaders of health charities, medical organisations and health professionals (including the British Medical Association, British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK) in signing and sending an open letter to the Prime Minister expressing their profound concern that measures to promote children’s health may be abandoned without facing the scrutiny of Parliament.

This follows the Government’s recent review of its obesity strategy for England, which is understood to include plans to scrap the sugar levy on soft drinks and other measures to cut preventable illness such as the ban on TV advertising of junk food before 9pm – with the aim of ‘easing the UK’s cost-of-living crisis’.

The letter from the Obesity Health Alliance, signed by 70 organisations, is urging the new Prime Minister to reconsider any plans to weaken the public health measures put into place, which were supported by three previous Conservative government leaderships. This is especially pertinent given that in an average class of 30 year-six children, 12 will be living with overweight or obesity[1].

Alison Morton, iHV Executive Director said:

“The biggest threats to the health of our nation are linked to rising cases of non-communicable diseases (equivalent to 74% of deaths globally, WHO data) – and unhealthy diets remain one of the biggest preventable risk factors. It therefore makes no sense to reverse these well-evidenced public health measures which will bring long-term benefits for the sake of a short-sighted knee-jerk policy that fails to address the root causes of the cost of living crisis.

“Prevention is indeed ‘better than cure’; we therefore offer our full weight of support to this call on the government to take this seriously through the strengthening, rather than dilution, of their plans for public health.”

Without doubt, cutting preventable illness is crucial if the Government is going to tackle the NHS backlog, realise its targets to halve childhood obesity by 2030 and deliver on levelling up, as poor diet is a key driver of regional health inequalities.

This follows a survey (16 September 2022), carried out by YouGov for Cancer Research UK of more than 2,000 adults, which showed 60% of people support the junk food restrictions being implemented in January 2023 as originally planned.

Furthermore, the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) has already demonstrated it’s an extremely successful policy that has reduced the amount of sugar in soft drinks by 30%, whilst increasing sales in the market (up 5% in 2021). In addition to removing 48,000 kilos of sugar from the nation’s diet, the SDIL has raised £300 million to fund over 2,000 school breakfast clubs and school holiday programmes, feeding a million children each year. It has also funded sports and PE equipment for primary schools. To stop collecting the SDIL revenues would lead to an increase in costs for families on lower incomes who vitally need these programmes.

Almost two-thirds of adult Britons are living with overweight or obesity. Obesity costs the NHS an estimated £6.1bn a year to treat because it is an increasingly common cause of cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart conditions, painful joints and other health problems. Government analysis projected that NHS costs attributable to overweight and obesity could reach £9.7bn by 2050.

Organisations and Individuals that have signed the letter:

  • Chris Askew, Chief Executive, Diabetes UK
  • Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive, British Heart Foundation
  • Michelle Mitchell, Chief Executive, Cancer Research UK
  • Dr David Strain, Chair of Board of Science, British Medical Association
  • Dr Camilla Kingdon, President, Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health
  • Dr Trudi Seneviratne OBE, Registrar, Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Professor Kevin Fenton, President, Faculty of Public Health
  • Ben Reynolds, Deputy Chief Executive, Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming
  • Katharine Jenner, Director, Obesity Health Alliance
  • William Roberts, Chief Executive, Royal Society for Public Health
  • Prof Giles Yeo MBE, Professor of Molecular Neuroendocrinology, University of Cambridge; Honorary President, British Dietetic Association
  • Barbara Crowther, Coordinator, Children’s Food Campaign
  • Professor Graham MacGregor, Chair, Action on Salt and Sugar
  • James Toop, CEO, Bite Back 2030
  • Pamela Healy OBE, Chief Executive, British Liver Trust
  • June O’Sullivan, Chief Executive, London Early Years Foundation
  • Dr Linda Greenwall, Dental Wellness Trust
  • Kim Roberts, Chief Executive, HENRY: Healthy Start, Brighter Future
  • Rebecca Sunter, Programme Director, Impact on Urban Health
  • Hugo Harper, Director of A Healthy Life Mission, Nesta
  • Rachael Gormley, CEO, World Cancer Research Fund
  • Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead, Obesity Action Scotland
  • Dr Rebecca Jones, President, The British Association for the Study of the Liver
  • Alison Morton, Executive Director, Institute of Health Visiting (iHV)
  • Maria Bryant, Professor of Public Health Nutrition, University of York and Fix our Food
  • Ignacio Vazquez, Head of Health, ShareAction
  • Eddie Crouch, Chair, British Dental Association
  • Dr Matthew Philpott, Executive Director, Health Equalities Group
  • Professor Dame Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
  • Anna Taylor OBE, Executive Director, The Food Foundation
  • Mike McKirdy, President, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
  • Dr Edward Morris, President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  • Dr Vicky Sibson, Director, First Steps Nutrition Trust
  • Professor Andrew Elder, President, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
  • Professor Vinod Menon, President, British Obesity & Metabolic Surgery Society
  • Dr Nicola Heslehurst, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Association for the Study of Obesity
  • Michael Baber, Director, Health Action Campaign
  • Professor John Wass, Professor of Endocrinology, Oxford University
  • Rebecca Cooper, CEO, Children’s Liver Disease Foundation
  • Dr Adrian Brown, Chair, British Dietetic Association Obesity Specialist Group
  • Sarah Le Brocq, Director All About Obesity & Obesity Advocate
  • Kathy Lewis, Acting Chair, The Caroline Walker Trust
  • Professor Shona Hilton, Deputy Director, MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow
  • Dr Fiona Donald, President, The Royal College of Anaesthetists
  • Martin Tod, Chief Executive, Men’s Health Forum
  • Professor Jim McManus, President, Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH)
  • Lynda Phillips, CEO, British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine (BASEM)
  • Mr Matthew Garrett, Dean, Faculty of Dental Surgery, Royal College of Surgeons of England
  • Professor Simon Capewell, University of Liverpool,
  • Professor Rachel Batterham OBE PhD FRCP, special adviser on obesity, Royal College of Physicians
  • Dr Marissa Smith, Research Assistant, MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (SPHSU), University of Glasgow
  • Rob Percival, Head of Food and Health Policy, Soil Association
  • Professor Amandine Garde, Law & NCD Research Unit, University of Liverpool
  • Professor Sir Stephen O’Rahilly, Director, Medical Research Council, Metabolic Diseases Unit, University of Cambridge
  • Prof Jack Winkler, Professor of Nutrition Policy, London Metropolitan University (Retired)
  • Feng He, Professor of Global Health Research, Queen Mary University of London
  • Sarah Turner, Chair, The Breastfeeding Network
  • Professor Laurence Moore, Director, MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
  • Neville Rigby, convener, International Obesity Forum
  • David McColgan, Chair, NCD Alliance Scotland
  • Stephanie Slater, Founder/ Chief Executive, School Food Matters
  • Professor Sir Nicholas Wald, University College London
  • Tam Fry FRSA, Patron of Child Growth Foundation and Chair of National Obesity Forum
  • Carina Millstone, Executive Director, Feedback
  • Patricia Marquis, Director, Royal College of Nursing
  • Professor Alexandra Johnstone, Association for the Study of Obesity Scottish Network
  • Sheila Duffy, ASH Scotland
  • Professor Sadaf Farooqi, Professor of Metabolism and Medicine, University of Cambridge
  • and Scientific Advisor, Obesity Empowerment Network
  • Jill Muirie, Chair, Glasgow Food Policy Partnership
  • Phil Pyatt, CEO, Blood Pressure UK




Investing in giving children the best start for life not only improves their life chances, but also reduces the demands on public services. As highlighted by the #TurnOffTheTaps Campaign launched last week, it’s time for a different approach. The UK is investing billions in overstretched health and social care services, which are flooded with growing needs.  It’s time to turn off the taps. It’s time to invest in health promotion and prevention in the earliest years of life.

Vicky Gilroy, iHV Head of Projects and Evaluation, said:

“The iHV is delighted that the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA), in their newly launched “Turning the Tide: A 10-year Healthy Weight Strategy”, has recognised and promoted the important role that health visitors play, providing individualised family-centred support to all families to reduce the impact of obesity.”

The Turning the Tide: A 10-year Healthy Weight Strategy, launched on 28 September 2021, makes 30 recommendations covering food and drink marketing in the early years, along with treatment, support and the need to address stigma, as well as the infrastructure needed to ensure that policies are robustly implemented and evaluated. The Strategy has been developed with an expert working group of academics, clinicians and policy experts, along with other expert advisors and OHA members. It brings together a wide range of public health stakeholders calling for evidence-informed approaches to improving healthy weight.

Key headlines from the Early Years Chapter of the Strategy include:

  1. An increase in health visitor universal ‘contacts’ (home visits or clinic appointments) to a minimum of eight
    • – Providing greater opportunities for the provision of advice and support on infant feeding and the promotion of healthy eating, physical activity and healthy weight.
    • – Enabling the early identification of children at risk of unhealthy growth with enhanced, tailored follow-up where needed to improve outcomes.
  2. Practical face-to-face breastfeeding support should be available to all women, delivered by appropriately qualified midwives, midwife support workers, health visitors or breastfeeding specialists, and assisted by trained peer supporters.
  3. Comprehensive training should enable and equip professionals working with expectant parents and families to discuss healthy weight and healthy eating in an empathetic manner, ensuring that the advice they receive is based on the best current independent evidence.

It’s time to turn the tide and halt the rise in obesity with a long-term approach to healthy weight. We support the OHA’s new healthy weight strategy with 30 evidence-informed actions. #TurnTheTide 

Public services are flooded with increasing needs. It’s time to invest in health visiting to #TurnOffTheTaps. 

86% of public say childhood obesity is a ‘serious problem’ as leading health campaigners warn faster progress is needed to protect children from health risks of obesity

One year on from the publication of the Government’s landmark childhood obesity plan: chapter 2, the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) has issued a scorecard to assess the progress, with the majority of vital policies stalled at the amber lights.

OHA Score card June 2019

Childhood obesity continues to be a key priority for the public. ComRes polling data among 2,058 adults in Great Britain shows:

  • 69% agree the new Prime Minister should continue to prioritise reducing childhood obesity
  • 86% agree childhood obesity is a serious problem
  • 76% say they are supportive of government action to reduce levels of childhood obesity
  • 80% say they are worried about the impact of obesity on NHS resources

The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA), which is made up of over 40 leading health charities, medical royal colleges and campaign groups and includes the Institute of Health Visiting,  recognise the work that been done by the Government in the last year, despite a complex political environment. But they warn that faster progress is needed in order to have any chance of meeting the Government’s target of halving childhood obesity by 2030.

The Institute commented:

Health visitors are in an ideal position to promote healthy weight, healthy nutrition with all families with babies and pre-school children. However, the current variation in capacity and service models has led to many families not receiving this support. Without in investment in front-line provision such as health visiting, childhood obesity will continue to be a serious public health problem.

Lack of consistent advice on healthy weight and nutrition in the early years has been compounded by closure of child health clinics across England where parents and carers would previously have been offered support and guidance from their health visiting service. The iHV calls for urgent action to consider the impact of the current closures and cuts to front-line health visiting services.

The most recent trends in life expectancy in England  present a slowdown in the reduction of mortality rates for heart disease and stroke, which are strongly associated with being overweight and obesity. It is therefore a serious concern that there is a stall in the reduction of childhood obesity. Our children are our future and without investment in front-line public health services like health visiting, as part of a whole system approach to tackle childhood obesity, we will continue to see life expectancy fall for those in the most deprived parts of our society.

The food and drink industry is being urged to reduce the amount of sugar in their products as new calculations from the Obesity Health Alliance show that 11 to 18 year old children are consuming, on average, the same amount of sugar as 20 chocolate chip biscuits a day.

Obesity Health Alliance - biscuit infographic

Obesity Health Alliance – biscuit infographic

The call comes as sugar is present in many of the food and drinks that children consume on a daily basis, making it difficult to consume less than the maximum daily recommendation for sugar. It also makes it hard for parents to know how much sugar their children are having.

The Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of 39 leading health charities, medical royal colleges and campaign groups (including the Institute of Health Visiting), is urging the food and drink industry to comply with the Government’s reformulation programme to reduce the amount of sugar in food commonly eaten by children, by 20 per cent by 2020. Research has shown that reformulation programmes that reduce certain ingredients in products are likely to be one of the most effective ways to help people eat more healthily.

The figures, calculated from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey also show that on average all age groups are consuming more free sugars than the Government’s recommendation which is 30 grams of free sugars a day for over 11 year olds and adults (seven sugar cubes). The highest intake is in 11 to 18 year olds (73.2 g/day), followed by 19 to 64 year olds (59.9 g/day) and then 4 to 10 year olds (53.5/day). Free sugars are any sugars added to food or drinks, or found naturally in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices.

Obesity Health Alliance - sugar infographic

Obesity Health Alliance – sugar infographic

Consuming too much sugar is one the key drivers to the population becoming overweight or obese. Obese children are around five times more likely to become obese adults making them more likely to develop serious health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart and liver disease, dental issues and associated mental health problems. Currently more than one in five children are overweight or obese when they start school, rising to more than one in three by the time they leave primary school.


The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) has had a letter published in the Times today calling for the childhood obesity strategy to be published without further delay and stating our policy priorities.

They anticipate the strategy to be published in the next couple weeks and so now have a limited window of influence to ensure that their calls are heard.

Please share the letter and if you’re using twitter, please use hashtags #obesity #obesityhealthalliance to widen the reach.

As the Times content is behind a paywall, please use the link to the letter on the OHA website:

If you have a Times subscription you can see the letter here:


OHA logo2

The new new Obesity Health Alliance website has gone live today

They have also launched a Twitter account @OHA_updates – so please follow and use their Twitter handle in any relevant social media posts.


More than 7.6 million new cases of disease linked to being overweight or obese could be diagnosed in the UK during the next 20 years, according to the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) which includes the Institute of Health Visiting.

If the worrying trend in obesity continues, around 40 million adults in the UK could be overweight or obese by 2035, with 45 percent of adults in the lowest income bracket being obese.

In 2035 alone, around 440,000 new cases of disease could be caused by being overweight and obese in the UK.

To tackle the obesity epidemic, the Obesity Health Alliance is calling on the Government to introduce a strong childhood obesity strategy without delay. It must include restricting junk food advertising on TV before the 9pm watershed, as well as setting targets for industry to reduce the amount of sugar and fat in food.

By Mallinaltzin (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Mallinaltzin (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of 30 national health charities, medical colleges and campaign groups including the Institute of Health Visiting, has today welcomed the announcement in the Budget of a tax on the soft drinks industry.

They said in a joint statement:

“This is a moment to celebrate.  We’ve been campaigning for a tax on sugar sweetened drinks, amongst other measures, to be part of the childhood obesity strategy so we’re delighted that the Chancellor has brought this measure forward. High sugar consumption is contributing to the obesity crisis, which has a high cost both to people’s health and the public purse.

“Almost two thirds of adults and a third of children in the UK are overweight or obese, which are potent risk factors for serious health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, a range of cancers and stroke, all of which can have a complex relationship with mental health.

“We’re pleased that the Government has listened to the evidence from Public Health England and public support for a tax on sugar sweetened drinks to curb the rising tide of obesity.”

The Alliance has also called for further measures to deal with the obesity crisis, including restrictions on marketing junk food to children and reformulation of food to reduce levels of salt, fat and sugar.


Notes to editors –

1      The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) is a new coalition of 30 national organisations which have come together to represent the unified voice of the public health sector on issues relating to overweight and obesity in the UK. We seek to share expertise and to support government in tackling the complex issue of overweight and obesity.

2      The membership of the OHA currently comprises: Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Action on Sugar, Association for the Study of Obesity, Association of Directors of Public Health, British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine, British Heart Foundation, British Medical Association, British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society, British Society of Gastroenterology, Cancer Research UK, Children’s Food Campaign, Diabetes UK, Faculty of Public Health, Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine, Health Equalities Group, Institute for Health Visiting, Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, Men’s Health Forum, National Obesity Forum, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Anaesthetists, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Surgeons, Royal Society for Public Health, Society for Endocrinology, UK Health Forum, and World Cancer Research Fund UK.

3      The OHA is the first coalition of its size to support the long term goal of tackling obesity across the life course, and we are growing. Our organisations are diverse and bring a wealth of expertise, spanning the medical, nursing, charity, and public health fields. United, we represent the views of hundreds of thousands of health professionals and public health experts across the UK.

4      The OHA has produced a joint position statement which outlines ten urgent population-level policy interventions for government, retailers and health professionals. We believe these measures, implemented in conjunction, will reduce rates of overweight and obesity and address the social inequality and cultural differences in overweight and obesity prevalence. This is accessible at: