A number of measures have been announced as part of the government’s new obesity strategy. The strategy is being launched alongside the new ‘Better Health’ campaign, led by Public Health England (PHE).
There have been several different approaches to tackling obesity over a number of years and by successive governments. This is something that Dolly Theis, undertaking a PhD funded by NIHR SPHR, presented as a poster at our Annual Scientific Meeting in 2019 (image above). In the poster, Dolly shows how various consultations, draft papers and reports on the measures now being announced have been considered over the last five years without being implemented, with the exception of the soft drinks levy which came into force in 2018. Dolly’s poster was mentioned in an article in The Times newspaper on Monday.
In response to the announcement this week, Dolly intends to update her poster and commented; “Studying the public health policy process is fascinating as although it’s sequential, the process is full of big breakthrough moments followed quickly by changes that can appear like things have had to start all over again from square one. It made me think of the game ‘Snakes & Ladders’, so I created this poster as a fun, eye-catching way to summarise the UK Government’s obesity policy process. It is fantastic my poster has been picked up by the media and policymakers. I hope this demonstrates the fact that academic posters can be a powerful tool in capturing attention and communicating complex phenomena.”
Ashley Adamson, Director of SPHR and Professor of Public Health Nutrition, said “I welcome this new strategy which includes measures to help those already overweight but also positive steps towards changing the obesogenic environment to which we are all exposed. Plans to extend the ban of TV advertising of HFSS across all TV before the 9pm watershed and reduction of BOGOF promotions of HFSS foods are particularly welcome. It is vital these measures are implemented quickly, along with all the other recommendations in the previous obesity plans, and that this signals only the start of policies to address the urgent issues of the wider upstream determinants of obesity and stark inequalities in health. I hope evidence from our research across SPHR can be used to inform these policy decisions.”
The government strategy includes plans to;
- introduce a new campaign – a call to action for everyone who is overweight to take steps to move towards a healthier weight, with evidence-based tools and apps with advice on how to lose weight and keep it off
- work to expand weight management services available through the NHS, so more people get the support they need to lose weight
- publish a 4-nation public consultation to gather views and evidence on the current ‘traffic light’ label to help people make healthy food choices
- introduce legislation to require large out-of-home food businesses, including restaurants, cafes and takeaways with more than 250 employees, to add calorie labels to the food they sell consulting on the intention to make companies provide calorie labeling on alcohol
- legislate to end the promotion of foods high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) by restricting volume promotions such as buy one get one free, and the placement of these foods in prominent locations intended to encourage purchasing, both online and in physical stores in England
- ban the advertising of HFSS products being shown on TV and online before 9pm and holding a short consultation as soon as possible on how to introduce a total HFSS advertising restriction online