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Call for government to offer better lifestyle advice to tackle childhood obesity

A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on A Fit and Healthy Childhood has put forward 100 recommendations for improving the health and wellbeing of children, many focused on stopping the rise in the number of overweight children. 

They are calling for the appointment of a cross-government children’s minister, based in the Cabinet Office, to co-ordinate improved investment in support for babies and toddlers and to combat childhood obesity across departments and the devolved UK governments. 

The group also wants to see better training among healthcare professionals in supporting overweight children with a strong focus on intervening at the earliest stage and promoting play. 

In addition, they ask for a ministerial taskforce to create a national framework on early years nutrition and lifestyle and suggest that the government should offer parents guidance on the impact of screen use in relation to sleep and reducing obesity. Advice could include recommending TVs and mobile phones are banned from children’s bedrooms. 

Improved mental health support, particularly for pregnant women and new mothers is also being called for. All councils should include maternity issues in their health and wellbeing strategies and substance misuse strategies, the report adds. 

The group calls for better training for midwives and maternity support workers around breast and bottle feeding and insist there is equal support for women “regardless of their chosen method of feeding”.