‘Tipping the Scales’, a London Assembly Health and Public Services Committee Report, has found that one in five children in London is obese, potentially costing £111 million a year in healthcare.
Sustrans has welcomed the report that supports the need for a coordinated London-wide approach to public health and obesity, urging for closely linked health and transport policies.
Transport for London funds Sustrans’ Bike It project in London (since 2006) which currently reaches almsto 37,000 pupils in 123 schools in the capital. Last year the number of children cycling to school everyday doubled in London Bike It schools.
Eleanor Besley, Policy Advisor at Sustrans, said: “Obesity is extremely complex and we cannot solve the problems without looking across all parts of children’s lifestyles. Making walking and cycling easier for children and young people will be a key part of a broad approach to tackling obesity in the Capital, which should be given sufficient priority through the provision of a ring-fenced funding pot.
“By improving walking and cycling routes to play spaces, reducing the impact of traffic in residential areas and supporting children to make daily journeys on foot or bike, transport strategies can play a central role in helping children to become more physically active and lowering obesity rates.”
Eleanor continues: “Bike it directly increases physical activity among children so it’s an intervention that straddles transport and health strategies. But the delivery of Bike It varies greatly across London. It needs to be prioritised as part of a more joined-up approach to the problem.”