Nutrition

UK Government introduces New Obesity Strategy to improve public health

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The UK Government has launched a New Obesity Strategy in the hope that people across the country will lose weight, following the devastating Covid-19 pandemic. With obese people more likely to have severe impacts from the virus, it is hoped that a hard-hitting campaign to tackle obesity will place the UK in better shape to cope with future pandemics, and lessen the impact on the health service.

The measures announced include:

  • Ban on TV and online adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt before 9pm
  • End of deals like ‘buy one get one free’ on unhealthy food high in salt, sugar and fat
  • Calories to be displayed on menus to help people make healthier choices when eating out – while alcoholic drinks could soon have to list hidden ‘liquid calories’
  • New campaign to help people lose weight, get active and eat better after COVID-19 “wake-up call”

Obesity is one of the biggest health crises the country faces. Almost two thirds (63%) of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity – and 1 in 3 children leave primary school overweight or obese, with obesity-related illnesses costing the NHS £6 billion a year.

The urgency of tackling the obesity time bomb has been brought to the fore by evidence of the link to an increased risk from COVID-19.

Living with excess weight puts people at greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19, with risk growing substantially as BMI increases. Nearly 8% of critically ill patients with COVID-19 in intensive care units have been morbidly obese, compared with 2.9% of the general population.

As the government continues to respond to this unprecedented global pandemic, Ministers will today set out a comprehensive package of measures to help people take control of their own future by losing weight, getting active and adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Rather than focusing primarily on childhood obesity, the strategy represents a new focus on empowering adults to lose weight as well.

This plan is being launched alongside an exciting new “Better Health” campaign, led by Public Health England, which will call on people to embrace a healthier lifestyle and to lose weight if they need to, supported by a range of evidence-based tools and apps providing advice on how to reduce the waistline.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson

“Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier.”

“If we all do our bit, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus – as well as taking pressure off the NHS.”

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock

“Everyone knows how hard losing weight can be so we are taking bold action to help everyone who needs it. When you’re shopping for your family or out with friends, it’s only fair that you are given the right information about the food you’re eating to help people to make good decisions.”

“To help support people we need to reduce unhelpful influences like promotions and adverts that affect what you buy and what you eat. Taken together, supported by an inspiring campaign and new smart tools, will get the country eating healthily and losing the pounds.”

“We know obesity increases the risk of serious illness and death from coronavirus – so it’s vital we take action on obesity to protect the NHS and improve our nation’s health.”

Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at PHE

“These plans are ambitious and rightly so. Tackling obesity will help prevent serious illness and save lives.”

“The main reason we put on weight is because of what we eat and drink, but being more active is important too. Making healthier choices easier and fairer for everyone, and ensuring the right support is there for those who need it, is critical in tackling obesity.”

“These bold measures will help us tip the scales on obesity. The argument for action is the clearest it’s ever been.”

To read the full announcement, click here

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