New obesity strategy unveiled as country urged to lose weight to beat coronavirus (COVID-19) and protect the NHS

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).

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 labelling 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

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier. If we all do our bit, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus – as well as taking pressure off the NHS.”

Changes to NHS services

As part of the initiative, NHS weight management services will be expanded so more people get the support they need to lose weight.

This will include more self-care apps and online tools for people with obesity-related conditions and accelerating the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.

From next year, doctors will be offered incentives to ensure people living with obesity is given support for weight loss.

GPs will also be encouraged to prescribe exercise and more social activities to help people keep fit.

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