At a glance: Anti-obesity initiatives return to media spotlight

This weeks 'At a glance' looks at the issue of child obesity in the UK and how different groups are taking new initiatives towards addressing the concern.

What's happened? The International Association for the Study of Obesity, an umbrella body for national obesity groups, last week joined calls for a ban on advertising of junk food aimed at children.

Does the UK's National Obesity Forum have any comms activity planned on this issue? In the UK, National Obesity Forum trustee Tam Fry, also chairman of the Child Growth Association, will speak at forthcoming party conferences and appeal for more money for GPs to tackle the problem. The issue is certainly topical - last Sunday's Observer ran a story headlined ‘NHS rations anti-obesity surgery', detailing how hospitals are being ‘overwhelmed' by overweight people asking for radical surgery.

Remind me, what is the Department of Health doing about tackling obesity?  The Government has long pledged to halt the year-on-year growth in child obesity by 2010.

Who at the DoH is handling PR for initiatives to tackle obesity? DoH senior press officer Brenda Irons-Roberts is handling PR for public health minister Caroline Flint, who was last month tasked with developing a strategy for increasing public exercise and fitness in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics. The department's consumer media team, led by chief press officer Jennie Hay, is developing related feature ideas.

And the DoH has various ongoing initiatives in this area..? Yes. The DoH publishes a biannual Obesity Bulletin and this year launched its Obesity Care Pathway (PRWeek, 10 May) for PCTs and GPs, comprising nine information sheets on various aspects of diet and exercise for adults and children. 

What's happened to the ‘five a day' fruit and veg idea? It's still going, along with the DoH ‘Small Change Big Difference' drive, which seeks to get people to adjust, rather than radically alter, their lifestyle.

Don't fat Britons need to do something pretty radical, though? Maybe, but it's outside Westminster where most plain speaking goes on. Two new Channel 4 shows this month focus on child obesity - a follow up to Jamie's School Dinners will see the Naked Chef revisit Greenwich schools to see if dreaded Turkey Twizzlers have returned. And Ian Wright's Fitter Kids sees the former Arsenal footballer attempt to get youngsters to exercise.

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