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UK government obesity strategy

KNoceros Posts: 316 Member
Ok everyone, what are your thoughts on the newly announced UK (?just England as health is devolved) anti-obesity strategy.

For those who haven’t seen it or are not based here the gist is:
The government are stressed that as a population we’re just too big (over 60% of the population are at least overweight and nearly 25% are obese). The given reason for the timing of these measures is that the obese do disproportionately badly if they get CoVID.

The plan involves:
Banning adverts for “unhealthy” food (their term not mine, encompassing high fat, sugar and/ salt food) before 9pm.
Also banning multi-buy offers on these foods.
Sweets and chocolate to be removed from till displays in supermarkets (TBH I thought this had been announced years ago anyway and quietly “forgotten”...)

Restaurants and takeaways to publish calorie counts on dishes (only for chains with more than 250 employees)

Calorie counts to be put on alcoholic drink labels.

There was discussion about a “12 week” weight loss plan to be promoted by GPs. This seems to have vanished already and there was no explanation as to why 12 weeks which in my opinion promotes “diet culture” and “quick fix” mentality rather than sustained change...

My feelings are that these are unlikely to really make
I’d be interested to hear other people’s take on this. Has something similar been tried where you are? Do you think it made any difference?

Also, for those interested here is a link to the official document.

Tackling obesity: government strategy


  • KNoceros
    KNoceros Posts: 316 Member
    Link to government document didn’t work.
    Here it is again.

  • KNoceros
    KNoceros Posts: 316 Member
    Spotted a couple of typos and for whatever reason can’t edit sorry about that.

    I had meant to say, I don’t think it’ll make much difference generally and may even do harm as it seems to be about demonising “bad” foods and does nothing to address the “calories out” side of the equation.
  • KNoceros
    KNoceros Posts: 316 Member
    . They should be pushing the couch to 5k and other such programmes, making cycling safer and arranging park walks or something.

    This is what I meant by the “not addressing calories out”. Expecting the public en masse to calorie count is, as you say, a non starter. But let’s try to increase activity levels. Even by a teeny bit.
    It’ll help not only with weight but also cardiovascular reserve (aka fitness).
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,870 Member
    I would guess that the rule about commercials before 9 and no candy at the checkout line (if I am interpreting correctly) are related to kids, and could be somewhat helpful for parents.

    I don't think the calorie count stuff really gets people to lose weight, for the reasons jane said, but it's very helpful for people who are counting/paying attention.

    I saw something about a 12-week NHS app this morning and wonder if that's related to the 12-week diet mentioned in the OP. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/start-the-nhs-weight-loss-plan/

    It actually looks like a reasonable approach -- aiming for .5-1 kg per week depending on weight. It has average cal totals in the explanation, which I don't like, but you can set your own cal target based on your own numbers (perhaps similar to MFP?). It has challenges and stuff and weekly support and tips. It might be motivating for some who want to lose weight but don't know where to start. Maybe kind of a free version of Noom?

    I also agree that focusing on how to increase activity would be a great thing.
  • KNoceros
    KNoceros Posts: 316 Member
    @lemurcat2 thanks for finding that link. It does actually (as you say) look a pretty sensible and balanced plan. And isn’t a 1200/1500 plan either.
    They’re suggesting a “typical” female / male total might be 1400 / 1900. With suggested recipes (except I can’t get them to download) and ways of increasing CO.

    I retract my statement that it sounded a bit crash-diety.
  • spiriteagle99
    spiriteagle99 Posts: 3,371 Member
    Advertising calories will help those who are making a conscious effort to lose weight, but most people will just ignore it. I've talked to my husband about it. At restaurants, I pick entrees based in part on calorie count. I'll usually skip certain favorites (i.e. 'loaded baked potato') when I get a look at the calories involved. I stopped eating dessert out after seeing how high the dessert calories are, even split between two people. My husband, OTOH, doesn't care at all. He eats what he wants to eat and completely ignores how many calories it has.
  • FitterFifteen
    FitterFifteen Posts: 75 Member
    I think the calorie labels will help a little - not so much as making people notice, but companies reducing the calories to show lower numbers.
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,870 Member
    I think the calorie labels will help a little - not so much as making people notice, but companies reducing the calories to show lower numbers.

    Yeah, I definitely think it makes restaurants at least more likely to have lower cal options.
  • MarttaHP
    MarttaHP Posts: 68 Member
    In my mind I'm comparing this to the way tobacco has been legislated in my country. Advertising cigarettes hasn't been allowed for several decades now, but it's been only a couple of years since they banned images of cigarette logos at checkouts. Just decreasing the visibility of these products, I imagine, will have affected their attractiveness. The same might apply to candy at the checkout, reducing impulse buys.

    They also added graphic warning labels on cigarette packaging. That might be equivalent of posting calorie labels in restaurants - "eat this and here is the consequence".

    The share of smoking male population decreased from 23% to 16% and the female population from 16% to 12% since these new rules came into effect.

    (However, the biggest impact on reducing smoking in my country has probably been the ban in bars and restaurants, which has been in effect for over a decade now. I guess no one will be proposing prohibiting the public consumption of snack foods any time soon.)
  • ms_maruska
    ms_maruska Posts: 116 Member
    It seems like a step in the right direction.

    But I think it should be thought of as collective awareness raising and understanding of nutrition and exercise rather than just introducing restrictions upon restrictions.
  • Geneveremfp
    Geneveremfp Posts: 504 Member
    watts6151 wrote: »
    Most uk GP’s haven’t a clue on nutrition

    I went in with a raised ALT liver reading
    The Dr informed me to cut my saturated fat
    While stuffing his face with a bag of walkers crisps. When I pointed out my total fats are .75grams per kilo of body weight he seemed totally lost.

    Only then did he check my bp which he said was perfect. Don’t think he appreciated me pointing out the amount of sat fat in his crisps

    It is very variable. I think the education of gps is getting better but a lot of them are very stuck in their ways. Anecdotally when I've had a younger gp they've known their stuff a lot more - although this is obviously a small sample size.

    I also think it's interesting that the way our health service runs its workers into the ground means a lot of them have poor habits around food already.
  • 4legsRbetterthan2
    4legsRbetterthan2 Posts: 19,483 MFP Moderator
    Sounds like they are trying to get stores to help through the "out of sight out of mind" rule. I don't think it will solve obesity, but the concept does make sense to me to a point, it's definitely a method I use around my own house to help me out. They are trying to help people minimize impulse buying these snack foods. However, curious what they will be replacing these items with. Probably yummy looking "protein" bars and such that are just as easy to impulse buy and overeat.

    I am a big fan of making calorie information easier to obtain (what MFPer isn't!). It's been done to some extent in the US already. Again, not a miracle solution, but I do think it allows casually curious people (the type that look at these numbers but wouldn't out in the effort to track down the info themselves) to realize little restaurant tricks, like sometimes a "healthy salad" has more calories than an "unhealthy hamburger".

    Agree the 12 week recommendation for the diet it weird. Most people don't reach goal in 3 months, not sure why they threw that number out there.