Children’s doctors are calling on the next government to put child health high on the political agenda as members of the public show overwhelming support for a series of policies which would improve children’s health.
A recent poll conducted on behalf of Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) found that two thirds of Britons support banning advertising of food high in fat, sugar and salt on TV before 9pm, with 90% backing cooking and nutrition lessons in schools.
Dr Hilary Cass, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said: “We often see policies hitting the headlines that are targeted at the aging population – increased funding for dementia research and additional dementia training for NHS workers are among the pledges that have been made in recent weeks. But whilst caring for our ageing population is important, it shouldn’t mean that children’s health falls to the wayside.
“This poll shows that the voting public care as much about child health as they do care for the elderly.
“Many health issues experienced later in life can be triggered during childhood. We need to better support children from infant to child, through to teen and into adulthood – we’ll only be able to do this by making small yet significant policy changes directly targeted to meet their needs.”
He went on “Let’s face the facts. The UK has the worst child mortality rate in Western Europe, has the highest rate of childhood obesity and has an estimated 850,000 children and young people living with a serious mental health conditions – 76% of 5-15yr olds with anxiety or diagnosable depression are not in contact with mental health services.
“These are figures that are going to see little improvement if bold policies are not put in place to directly address them. What’s needed is urgent and increased investment in children’s mental health services and policies like taxation of foods high in salt, sugar and fat, compulsory PSHE lessons in all schools and heightened road safety measures such as 20mph zones – policies that are backed by the public.
“I call on the next government to listen to the facts and listen to the public – make child health a priority. Not only does it make strong moral sense, it makes economic and political sense too. ”