The UK’s obesity plan – a view point
Covid has highlighted our country’s growing obesity problem. With c.60% of UK adults overweight or obese the evidence based link between Covid, obesity and poor outcomes has led our Government to produce an obesity strategy ‘designed to get the nation fit and healthy’ and ‘protect themselves against Covid-19’. So what’s in the strategy and will it work?
The strategy recommends is the end of promotional offers on ‘junk foods’, changes in advertising for junk food and an extension of access to free weight loss programs, referral via your GP. I think the first two are positive moves for all of us, to change our food environment by removing the commercial nudges for eating more junk food, whilst encouraging food companies to develop healthy food alternatives. We also know that formal and supported weight-loss programs have good results. However, it’s complex and there are so many different drivers that contribute to obesity – physiology, psychology, culture, education, socio-economic status, as well as the food environment. Providing generic public health strategies is challenging (and often confusing), as every individual’s case is different.
I would like to emphasise that any notion of blame or guilt around the topic of obesity is unhelpful and can lead to disorder eating. We are all unique in our physiology and for some weight management is much more of a challenge, so we need to be more compassionate and less judgmental. I also believe obesity should be defined by a person’s overall health not just their weight. Whatever your weight you will benefit from a more active lifestyle and a healthier balanced diet.
As most of us want to eat well and no one wants a nanny state telling us how to live our lives, these moves should improve the food environment for everyone by reducing the active encouragement of eating junk food and give everyone more information about the food we eat, helping us all live healthier and longer lives.
For more information see the Achieve Oxfordshire's website www.achieveoxfordshire.org.uk or our phone is 01865 338119 and individuals can self-refer.