New obesity strategy unveiled by the UK Government


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New obesity strategy unveiled by the UK Government

Date posted: 28 July 2020


The government has announced a new plan to tackle obesity. This has been prompted by the emergence of evidence showing that excess weight increases the risk of developing serious complications for people with covid-19 infection, summarised in a rapid review of the evidence by PHE.

More than 3 in 5 adults in the UK are overweight and the new plan is the first to directly address the need for adults to lose weight. It promises more support for people living with overweight and obesity including better access to weight management programmes through the NHS. There will be a major public health campaign ‘Better Health’, including a new NHS weight loss app.

Importantly, these interventions sit alongside other measures to help everyone achieve a healthier diet and reduce their risk of weight gain. There is growing evidence that  during the lockdown period many people gained weight because of changes in their eating habits (grocery stores reported increased sales of snacks and alcohol) and decreases in routine physical activity. The plan includes a commitment to new legislation to end the advertising of foods high in saturated fat, free sugars and salt on TV and online before 9pm, as well as a consultation on a wider ban.  There will be legislation to restrict promotions of these foods in stores. Meanwhile, when we eat out, large businesses will be required to include calorie labelling on their menus.


Susan Jebb of the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences said “This announcement of new measures to both prevent and treat obesity is very welcome news. While it has been prompted by the association of excess weight with poor outcomes for people with COVID-19 infections, the actions set out in the plan will also help reduce the estimated 57,000 premature deaths annually from obesity-related illness in the UK”.


Policy paper - Tackling obesity: government strategy