Obesity is a social justice issue we can’t ignore

Obesity is a social justice issue. It’s not news that most adults are now obese or overweight, and more than one in three children leave primary school obese or overweight. But the poorer you are the worse the situation is.

FacebooktwitterlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterlinkedinmail   by Andy Cook, 7th February 2017

Obese people are more likely to struggle to find work due to poor health and stigma, and in May 2014 there were 7,440 working-age Disability Living Allowance claimants whose main disabling condition was obesity. Evidence emerging from the US would suggest that there is also a strong correlation between increased weight and poor educational outcomes.

In London alone, health inequalities between rich and poor are vast: a person growing up in Tower Hamlets dies on average 17 years younger and lives in more ill-health than someone who grows up in Richmond.

And so the recent State of Child Health, a report from The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, is a welcome addition to the conversation. It highlights that 40 percent of children from the most deprived areas are obese or overweight, compared to 27 percent in the least deprived areas.

The CSJ is developing an anti-obesity roadmap for Government

The Government is making progress in this area but the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) wants it to go further and so in the coming months is drawing up a roadmap for reform. As stated in the Government’s Marmot review into health inequality seven years ago, ‘it is a matter of fairness and social justice’. Our review is identifying what changes the Government could make to protect the environment and the choices presented to children in the most deprived areas from being degraded further.

We will be looking at how we can get more children active and enjoying sport, as well as understanding what impact growing up in poverty and being exposed to adverse childhood experiences has on weight and health.

This is not about asking the Government to become a nanny-state, it’s about asking the Government to make the default healthy. Only then will the poorest children have the best chance of getting out of poverty and reaching their full potential


The EQ Foundation has agreed to sponsor a year-long study into obesity, run by the CSJ. The aim of this project is to come up with a coherent strategy for tackling the root causes of obesity and provide a clear roadmap for how Government can implement these solutions.

Contact Andy

    Andy Cook

    Andy is the Centre for Social Justice's (CSJ’s) Chief Executive and is responsible for making sure that the CSJ remains one of Westminster’s leading policy think tanks. Andy leads the CSJ team, sets the strategy and oversees its implementation. Prior to joining the CSJ Andy co-founded the leading education charity, TwentyTwenty, growing it to be an organisation of regional prominence as well as national influence and developing strategy for its national roll-out.

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