Government launches new obesity strategy

The Government’s new Obesity Strategy aims to get the nation fit and healthy in order to protect people against COVID-19 and protect the NHS.
Man reading pamphlet

The strategy includes a number of measures aimed at the food and drinks industry, expanded NHS services and Public Health England’s Better Health campaign.

Why obesity and why now?

The government views tackling obesity as one of the greatest long-term health challenges this country faces. The strategy also states that research indicates that being overweight or living with obesity is associated with an increased risk of hospitalisation, severe symptoms, advanced levels of treatment such as mechanical ventilation or admission to Intensive Care Units and death from COVID-19. Therefore, this strategy focusses on adults rather than children.

What is in the strategy?

The strategy lists a number of proposals:

  • A campaign for everyone who is overweight to take steps to move towards a healthier weight – called Better Health.
  • Expansion of weight management services available through the NHS, so more people get the support they need to lose weight.
  • The planned publication of a 4-nation public consultation to gather views and evidence on our current ‘traffic light’ label to help people make healthy food choices.
  • Introduction of legislation to require large out-of-home food businesses, including restaurants, cafés and takeaways with more than 250 employees, to add calorie labels to the food they sell.
  • A consultation on the government’s intention to make companies provide calorie labelling on alcohol.
  • Legislation 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.
  • Banning the advertising of HFSS products being shown on TV and online before 9pm and holding a short consultation on how to introduce a total HFSS advertising restriction online.

Find the full government strategy at:

Tackling Obesity Government Strategy

Better Health: tools and support to help people to lose weight

Better Health tools and support include:

  • The Better Health app which includes a free NHS weight loss plan to help people adopt healthier eating habits, be more active and start losing weight.
  • Access to the Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme for those at high risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Links with other weight loss and fitness programmes.
  • A series of apps to help with activity and healthy eating.

Find out more about Better Health

Proposed changes for GP services from 2021

  • GPs will be offered incentives to ensure people living with obesity are given support for weight loss.
  • Primary care staff will have the opportunity to become ‘healthy weight coaches’ though training delivered by Public Health England.
  • GPs will also be encouraged to prescribe exercise and more social activities to help people keep fit.

What we have found in Wandsworth

Wandsworth has a higher proportion of obese children than the England average and low levels of awareness about obesity and the many related health risks presents a serious local and national challenge. Therefore in the past we have focussed on children and young people.

The government strategy appears to go some way to providing the type of measures that people in Wandsworth have called for in the past.

In 2016, our report on the ‘Great Weight Debate’ highlighted that people wanted increased awareness of obesity related problems and comorbidities, and for healthier food choices and exercise facilities to be promoted. In October 2017, our report on a Consultation on Physical Activity in Wandsworth found that motivation, time and money were barriers to exercising.

For more information: 
Read our Great Weight Debate report

However, in April 2018, our survey about key health issues in early years pointed out the impact that income has on maintaining a healthy diet and exercising. Respondents suggested that more support and resources are needed, particularly in low socio-economic areas, to better educate people on healthy eating and to provide affordable and free exercise options for families.

Read our Key Health Issues in Early Years report

In October 2015 young people told us that although they are aware of healthy eating options, taste and cost were most important.

Read our Healthy Alternatives to Junk Food report

Staying fit and healthy in Wandsworth

Wandsworth Wellbeing Hub can help you find support in Wandsworth including:

  • Courses, classes and groups for specific health conditions
  • Healthy lifestyle support

Visit the Wandsworth Wellbeing Hub

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