OEN UK welcomes the recent launch of the Government’s obesity strategy which supports the OEN UK mission to make obesity prevention and treatment a national priority, and improve preventative and treatment strategies including access to obesity services.

The Department of Health and Social Care has outlined the measures the government will be taking to help people lose weight in the government’s Tackling Obesity strategy, launched alongside Public Health England’s ‘Better Health’ campaign.

The strategy recently published highlights that nationwide healthcare provision to tackle obesity is crucial if the government is to address health inequalities. 

The strategy also acknowledges that many people who are living with obesity or overweight, want to lose weight, and have tried to lose weight, but find it hard. 

The strategy acknowledges the government’s responsibility to prevent overweight and obesity and to give the full support of the NHS to help people to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

The government has announced its commitment to:

  • Expand weight management services so that more people get the support they need to lose weight and will say more about this later this year.
  • Offer all Primary Care Networks the opportunity to equip their staff to become healthy weight coaches though training delivered by Public Health England.
  • Increase the frequency of behavioural interventions for obesity in primary care.
  • Bring forward a programme with incentives for GPs and referral pathways into weight management services in every local health care system.
  • Encourage local authorities to expand their provision of weight management services.

The government has acknowledged that the food environment can make it harder or easier to gain and maintain a healthy weight and has announced the following policies to change the food environment in the UK:

  • Banning adverts for high fat, salt or sugar products on TV and online before 9pm. This measure is based on research published by Cancer Research UK exposing just how much television airtime advertising foods with high fat, sugar and salt levels receive and how exposure to advertising can affect what and when children eat, both in the short term and the longer term by shaping children’s preferences at a young age. 
  • Calorie labelling in large restaurants, cafes and takeaways. New laws will require large restaurants, cafes and takeaways with more than 250 employees to add calorie labels to the food they sell.
  • Ending promotion of high fat, sugar or salt products in store and online. Shops will be encouraged to promote healthier choices and offer more discounts on food like fruit and vegetables. New legislation will restrict the promotion of foods high in fat and sugar, such as ‘buy one get one free’ offers. There will also be a ban on these items being placed in prominent locations in stores, such as at checkouts and entrances, and online.

The government has announced new consultations on measures to support informed decision making:

  • A 4-nation public consultation to gather views and evidence on our current ‘traffic light’ food label to help people make healthy food choices
  • A consultation on plans to provide calorie labelling on alcohol.

PHE’s new ‘Better Health’ campaign will urge people to take stock of how they live their lives, make healthier choices, and provide a free NHS 12-week weight loss plan app.

You can read the Department of Health and Social Care policy paper ‘Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives’ in full here.

OEN UK is committed to improving the health and lives of people affected by overweight and obesity. Join the Network here to receive our latest news and updates.