Today's Foresight report into obesity plugs cycling, but will Government listen?

Cycling lauded by Foresight as key fat buster

Obesity in Britain is a big and growing problem. By 2050 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women could be clinically obese, says today’s Foresight report, an independent, Government-backed study, the largest ever carried out in the UK.

Without action, obesity-related diseases will cost an extra £45.5 billion per year, says the study.

‘Tackling Obesities: Future Choices’ is a two page summary of what needs to be done to halt the rising tide of tubbiness.

Cycling gets top-billing as one of the key ways to get people active.

The summary says: "Tackling obesity has striking similarities with tackling climate change. Both need whole societal change with cross governmental action and long term commitment. Many climate change goals would also help prevent obesity, such as measures to reduce traffic congestion, increase cycling or design sustainable communities."

But in the recent Comprehensive Spending Review, the Government’s cash action plan for the future, cycling was noticeable by its absence. Most commentators had been expecting a big cash injection for cycling in the UK – Cycling England wants a minimum of £75m to progress its plans – but the transport part of the Review pledged no extra cash.

This could be because ministers are holding back on announcing new funds for cycling in order to generate more of a publicity splash.

Because of the increasing trend towards obesity it’s highly unlikely that Peter Bone’s Private Members’ Bill on cycle helmet compulsion – supported by Angela Lee of the British Helmet Initiative Trust and Eric Martlew MP – will get Government support.

As has been trumpeted since the 1990s, the health benefits of cycling far outweigh the dangers and any measure which sought to "protect" cyclists but which at the same time reduced the numbers of those who cycle couldn’t be considered a good example of ‘joined-up Government.’

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