The government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy, which may contain plans for a sugar tax, will not be released until the summer, according to the Department of Health (DoH).

The strategy has widely been slated for imminent release since last autumn and was most recently rumoured to be unveiled this month.

However, speculation has been brought to an end with the DoH saying the strategy was still being worked on and would not be released until the summer.

A DoH spokesman said “We are now confirming that the childhood obesity strategy will be published in summer.

“The strategy will be a key step forward in helping our children live healthier lives, but there is still work to be done to get it right.”

Rumours that a sugar tax was unlikely to appear in the strategy were quashed by the spokesman, who said: “The strategy will look at everything, including sugar, that contributes to a child becoming overweight and obese. It will also set out what more can be done by all sides.”

lobby groups

The news has been received negatively by health lobby groups, including Cancer Research UK, which last week produced a report with the UK Health Forum claiming a sugar tax could prevent 3.7m obesity cases by 2025.

Alison Cox, director of prevention at Cancer Research UK, said: “David Cameron has called children’s obesity a crisis and yet the Government has failed the next generation by stalling on one of its own health priorities.

“While the Government delays, more children will become obese. Our survey shows people want the Government to act to fight children’s obesity – eight out of 10 think it’s a problem. To help prevent thousands of cancer cases we want a ban on junk food ads during family viewing times, a sugary drinks tax and more sugar taken out of food. The future health of our children depends on strong action right now. Every day counts.”

However, the DoH defended its position, saying: “We never said it was going to be 1 February. We’ve now said it will be released in the summer.”