Leeds to lead the way on obesity research at university centre

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A new research centre to help draw up measures to tackle spiralling rates of obesity will be launched today by university academics.

The centre at Leeds Beckett University will bring leading experts together to carry out research into obesity and associated health problems like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

It is hoped the Leeds Beckett Applied Obesity Research Centre will help shape future Government policies to tackle the problem.

It follows alarming rises in the number of chidlren who are obese and calls from health experts for the Government to tackle junk food advertising and restrict sales of unhealthy snacks.

Professors Pinki Sahota and Paul Gately will launch the research centre at an event today at the city’s Cloth Hall Court.

Prof Sahota said: “We want to take a holistic approach to obesity.

“Previously we have all been working individually or in small groups, so we’ve been missing out on the opportunity to pool our great expertise on obesity.

“Launching the Applied Obesity Research Centre means that all the experts will work together and with the key stakeholders to tackle the issue.

“This makes us a more formidable voice on the subject and will mean we have a greater capacity to work on all areas.”

In April a “sugar tax” was introduced by the Government as part of measures to tackle obesity and tooth decay among children.

It led to some drinks manufacturers changing their recipes to reduce sugar.

Last month, the Health and Social Care Select Committee said cartoon characters should be banned from promoting junk food.

It would mean characters like Tony the Tiger and the Milky Bar Kid would have to be dropped or used to promote healthier products.

The committee also urged the Government to ban junk food adverts before the 9pm TV watershed and for supermarkets to be forced to remove confectionery and other unhealthy snacks from the ends of aisles and checkouts.

The Leeds Beckett Applied Obesity Research Centre will be launched today as the Government prepares its Childhood Obesity Plan.