News of the latest chapter of the government's child obesity plan has been announced by the Department of Health and Social Care. The plan includes a range of measures in an attempt to reduce rates of childhood obesity. Banning junk food at checkouts is one of the proposals listed in today's government announcement.

There is also a proposal to stop the inclusion of unhealthy foods in 'buy-one-get-one-free' offers. Energy drinks are also mentioned with a proposal to stop the sale of them to children. Additionally, there could also be a call for restaurants and food outlets to provide calorie information for all food items.

These proposals are intended to reduce the consumption of unhealthy foods by children.

Speaking on TV programme "The Andrew Marr Show" this morning, Jeremy Hunt, the UK Health Secretary, stated the government aims to "halve childhood obesity by 2030."

Other elements of the new plan include getting all schools in England to get their pupils to increase daily physical activity through initiatives like the Daily Mile.

The Daily Mile is an initiative targeted at increasing children’s physical activity by encouraging them to run or walk a mile around their school's playing field each morning. This is an initiative that has already been taking place in a number of schools around the UK and further afield.

Initial research suggests its effectiveness such as a paper - by researchers at The University of Stirling and The University of Edinburgh - published in the BMC Medicine journal which reported an improvement in the fitness, the decreasing of sedentary behaviour, and better body composition of children.

Through the combined encouragement of a decrease in the consumption of unhealthy foods and, an increase in exercise, the government hopes to reduce obesity rates in children.

Obesity rates

The current rate of childhood obesity in the country is high. Last month, the Local Government Association (LGA) announced that out of those aged 10 or 11 in England and Wales, more than 22,000 of these children fit into the category of "severely obese". The Association called on the government to create greater reforms to combat obesity in children.

With obesity known to increase the risk of several health problems both in the short and long-term, these high numbers are an issue the government has promised to tackle.

Responses to the childhood obesity plan

In response to today's announcement of the latest chapter of the childhood obesity plan, the LGA's Chairman, Cllr Izzi Seccombe has remarked that “This latest plan is desperately needed if we are to seriously tackle the child obesity crisis this country is experiencing." However, a concern is also noted that "over-stretched council budgets" will struggle.

Moreover, the founding Chief Executive of Public Health England, Duncan Selbie, has commended the government's announcement calling it a "fabulous moment for turning the tide on the epidemic of childhood obesity."

Meanwhile, the charity Cancer Research UK has called it a "bold plan" in a post on their Twitter account.

They have also emphasised how dangerous obesity can be to health long term.

The health risks associated with obesity is one of the key emphases made by Steve Brine, the Public Health Secretary, in the government announcement. He describes eating too much in addition to not exercising enough as having a "catastrophic effect" on children.