England: Government urges people to lose weight to beat Covid and help NHS

18 September 2020

The government released its obesity strategy at the end of July, announcing ‘a new set of policies… to empower people to make the healthier choices they want to make and give the full support of the NHS to people who... want to lose weight’.

The stategy describes it as ‘the start of [an] effort to shift healthcare to focus more on public health and prevention’, and says that, while tackling obesity is one of the greatest long-term health challenges the country faces, obesity has now ‘become an immediate concern’ due to evidence of a link to an increased risk from Covid-19.

Measures in the strategy include: a ban on TV and online adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt before 9pm; the end of deals such as buy one, get one free); displaying calories on menus; and a new campaign to help people lose weight, get active and eat better after the Covid-19 ‘wake-up call’.

Diabetes UK said it welcomed ‘the ambition outlined in the government’s new obesity strategy to support healthier choices’.

And the Obesity Health Alliance praised the targeting of promotional offers. But the Health Foundation said the strategy fails to address the role of economic and social factors that shape how people exercise and eat.

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