We must have value for cash

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BACK in 2008 expectations were raised in Sheffield when it was announced that obesity among young children was to be tackled as part of the multi-million pound Change 4 Life campaign.

For the next 36 months, we were told, children would be taught the benefits of healthy lifestyles and healthy diet to bring down the number of overweight schoolchildren.

Three years and £10 million later and The Star can reveal that the campaign has yet to deliver results.

Not only has it so far failed to arrest obesity, the number of children classed as such has actually increased.

Officials, who have not yet reported on the scheme which came to an end a year ago, say they are still analysing the results.

Let us help them: when the project started, 18.7 per cent of 11-year-olds were obese. Today that figure is 20.24 per cent. At the outset, 9.3 per cent of four and five-year-olds were obese. Today that figure is 10 per cent.

Analysts have responded to our questions by suggesting there is cause for some optimism from the fact that Sheffield’s position has not worsened as badly as other similar cities. We are even told that tackling obesity is a long-term project, suggesting that people should not jump to conclusions.

With due respect, we are afraid there is no other conclusion to reach than that this expensive attempt at throwing money to solve a problem has so far failed to deliver its expected results. We agree that the city should continue to target childhood obesity. To do otherwise would be to turn our backs on a generation.

But any further work in this area must be done in such a way that it delivers value for money.

Lessons have to be learned from the Change 4 Life experience. And, clearly, changes have to be made in how we throw money at social problems.

People must fend for their families

NOBODY likes it when fuel prices rise and it is natural to complain. However, that should not detract from the justification behind a call from EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, for a change of heart by the Government over plans to introduce a carbon tax on high-energy using companies.

With businesses struggling to survive against all that the economic downturn has cast in their path, the last thing they need is a further hindrance to recovery. We support this call for common sense to prevail. This is a time when we should be looking after jobs and ensuring that people can fend for their families.