We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.
Under a raft of measures to be announced by Mr Johnson tomorrow, GPs will be asked to prescribe cycling, restaurants and takeaways will be forced to publish calories in every meal or drink and more people will get access to NHS weight loss services as part of the new drive to help get the nation fit after lockdown. The new “Better Health” campaign is thought to be the biggest government plan of its kind and follows Boris Johnson’s own hospitalisation with coronavirus in April, as well as mounting evidence that excess weight is associated with a higher risk of severe illness and death from the virus.
A government spokesperson said: “Covid-19 has given us all a wake-up call of the immediate and long-term risks of being overweight, and the Prime Minister is clear we must use this moment to get healthier, more active and eat better.
“We will be urging the public to use this moment to take stock of how they live their lives, and to take simple steps to lose weight, live healthier lives, and reduce pressure on the NHS”
Under the new strategy GP’s will be asked to encourage patients to cycle, and segregated cycle lanes, low traffic neighbourhoods and secure cycle parking will be rolled out in areas with high obese populations.
The government said it wants the new measures to adopt “the lessons from tackling smoking,” where GPs played a key role in raising the topic and referring patients to stop-smoking services.
The new plan is being unveiled ahead of winter when experts fear the NHS could be overwhelmed with a seasonal flu epidemic alongside a second spike in coronavirus.
The campaign aims to reach 35 million people who need to lose weight, encouraging them to make behaviour changes to eat better and move more to prevent the onset of serious diseases.
This will be supported by a 12-week plan that everyone can use to develop healthier eating habits, get more active and lose weight. NHS weight loss services will also be expanded so more people can get the support they need, and the government will also look at ways to make it easier to be referred to specialist support.
People at risk of developing type 2 diabetes will also be able to self-refer to specialist services from Monday in a bid to curb one of the biggest risk factors in Covid-19 deaths.
Tam Fry, spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum said: “I welcome this announcement and what I hope will be the start of a final solution.
“I am delighted that two tragedies – that of the coronavirus pandemic and Mr Johnson’s illness with the virus led to his epiphany that we need to tackle this obesity crisis. This new plan is going further than any government up til now and it is important it is sustained as dealing with the obesity problem will not take weeks but years.”
He added: “Without a doubt this is potentially the biggest action any government has taken in human memory. We’ve lit the touch paper and now we must see it expand into a good strategy. I will be keeping an eye on Boris Johnson and I now want to know what is the budget and what is the timeline for it?”
Last year (2018/19) there were nearly 900,000 obesity related hospital admissions with obesity a risk factor for chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes, some cancers, liver and respiratory diseases like flu.
As part of the campaign new rules will also make it compulsory for restaurants and takeaway chains employing more than 250 staff to publish the calories in every meal or drink served. Similar labels will also have to be placed on bottles and cans of beer, wine and spirits sold in shops.
Ministers are also considering banning buy-one-get-one free supermarket promotions.
In addition there are plans for an online junk food advertising ban and a restriction on promoting such food on television until 9pm.
However taxes on foods high in fat, sugar and salt have been ruled out because ministers are said to want to give individuals the information needed to make healthy choices, rather than hit them in the pocket. Calorie labels were considered two years ago but shelved following opposition from businesses and the Treasury.
Last week Mr Johnson revealed he has shed ‘a stone and a bit’ of his 17-and-a-half stone since he was discharged from hospital following his covid infection. He said: “Losing weight is frankly one of the things you can do to reduce your own risks from Covid and actually one of the ways you can generally improve your health and protect the NHS.”
However, leading public health expert, Dr William Bird, who advises Public Health England on physical activity, said: “The government can introduce anti-obesity measures til it is blue in the face but it will make very little difference if it doesn’t tackle the underlying causes of obesity.
While it is absolutely right to make this a big issue obesity, inactivity, smoking and everything we do to punish ourselves is a symbol of chronic stress, feeling undervalued which is linked to lack of employment or self worth. It needs to build on giving people purpose and opportunity in life rather than dealing with the symptoms of this problem.”
Dr Aseem Malhotra, a leading London cardiologist, who has been advising health secretary Matt Hancock on the government’s new anti obesity drive said: “I very much welcome these measures to tackle obesity and I look forward to seeing the full report on Monday. However while exercise is very good for health, weight loss is not one of them. We have to be clear you cannot out-cycle a bad diet.”
He added: “We also need to make it clear that there is no such thing as a healthy weight, only a healthy person. Half of the British diet is based on ultra processed junk foods – we need to encourage people instead to eat whole nutritious foods – the quality of the food is more important than the quantity of calories.”
The news comes alongside a new fast track NHS service to help people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, announced today in another bid to curb one of the biggest risk factors in Covid-19 deaths.
From tomorrow, the public will be able to use an online tool, hosted by Diabetes UK, to calculate their risk of developing the condition by answering a series of basic questions including age, weight and ethnicity.
A third of people who died in hospital with Covid-19 had diabetes, according to Public Health England data, and over 12.3 million people in the UK are at risk of developing the disease.
NHS England is now rolling out rapid access to the Healthier You service, which was initially launched in 2016. It is hoped the scheme will reach an extra 200,000 people a year.
Previously a patient needed to be referred by a healthcare professional and have a blood test, but now people will be able to use an online tool to calculate their diabetes risk.
Hosted by Diabetes UK, users of the Know Your Risk tool are asked questions including their age, weight and ethnicity.
If their score comes back as moderate or high they will be able to refer themselves to a local Healthier You programme.
Weight-loss support will include group sessions by video-link or telephone with a coach, online support groups and in some areas access to wearable tech to monitor physical activity.
From August, there will also be a specific campaign to promote the programme to black and south Asian communities after research revealed they are more at risk of both type 2 diabetes at younger ages and coronavirus.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “The evidence is now in – obesity can double your chance of dying from coronavirus.
“So this pandemic is a call to arms to adopt medically proven changes in what we eat and how we exercise.”
Two-thirds – 63 percent – of UK adults are above a healthy weight, with 36 percent overweight and 28 per cent obese. One in three children aged 10 to 11 are overweight or obese, and children living with obesity are five times more likely to become obese adults.
It is estimated that overweight and obesity related conditions are costing the NHS over £6 billion each year.
Currently, 12.3 million people in the UK are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Up to three in five of these could be prevented or delayed with lifestyle changes.
Source: Read Full Article