5 Ways the UK Government is Taking Action to Cut Growing Obesity Levels
Obesity is increasingly becoming a problem in several countries throughout the world, including in the United Kingdom. According to NHS Digital, 60 percent of women and 67 percent of men in the UK are either overweight or obese. Not only does this increase health complications such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, but is also proving to make recovery from Covid-19 more problematic. Obesity is predominantly affecting lower income individuals. This often leads to health inequality and shorter lifespans because of the many diseases and conditions related to obesity. The UK government is taking several specific steps to cut the growing obesity rates.
1) Banning Certain Television Advertisements
Advertising has a powerful impact on the food choices that many individuals make, this is especially true among children. Enacting new laws that ban specific ads on television is one step the UK government is taking to curb obesity. Between 6pm and 9pm is the peak time for children viewing television. The following are a few specific steps the government is taking to curb the problem by limiting advertising.
- The government is banning television advertising for foods high in salt, sugar, or fat before 9pm.
- There is also possibly an online ban of advertising of these types of foods before 9pm.
- These bans will affect the entire United Kingdom.
2) Ending Unhealthy Food Promotions
The BBC reports that the UK is working toward ending buy one get one free promotions for unhealthy foods. Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) promotions are popular because they encourage consumers to purchase more items. New legislation will ban stores from offering one high fat or unhealthy item free if a customer purchases another. This includes foods high in sugar or fat. This ban also includes placing these types of unhealthy items in prominent displays throughout stores. They now encourage stores to display healthier food choices in areas near the front of the store and in check-out lanes.
Promoting BOGO deals doesn’t help people understand portion size and may enable those individuals prone to overeating to continue their unhealthy lifestyle choices. Organizations such as Cancer Research UK, strongly support these steps that the government is taking to tackle the obesity epidemic. Gaining extra weight is something that often occurs slowly, over several years. Even as few as 50 to 75 calories extra each day can eventually lead to a significant weight gain. Therefore, limiting BOGO options can make a big difference.
3) Promoting Calorie and Nutrition Displays
It’s often surprising how many calories are actually in certain types of food. Knowing exactly how many calories, fat grams, etc., are in foods and how large a serving size is, will help people make better decisions regarding their food choices. Making sure to prominently display nutrition information at pubs and restaurants is a big part of the plan to reduce obesity. Requiring nutrition information primarily applies to chains and other restaurants and cafes with over 250 employees. This will also include labeling how many calories are in alcoholic drinks. This is important because according to the Guardian, alcohol makes up about 10 percent of all calories for those who drink.
Another part of labeling will include individual food items. The government is promoting front of package labeling so people can more easily see nutritional information. The government call this a “traffic light” approach. Most consumers say they like labeling up front where they can easily see it. Once people are aware of just how many calories, fat, sugar, etc., is in all the food and drinks they’re consuming, they can more easily make healthy choices.
4.Encouraging Active Lifestyles and Healthy Eating
The government is going to take several steps to promote an increase in activity and healthier food choices. The UK government explains several important reasons professionals should promote physical activity. There is a correlation between obesity and the likelihood of contracting Covid-19. Promoting healthy eating and adequate exercise will not only improve the general health of those living in the UK, but might even reduce the number of serious Covid cases.
As a business leader, there are several specific ways you can promote activity and healthy eating. Make sure healthy choices are available in the cafeteria and all vending machines. Provide incentives and reward programs for employees to maintain normal weights. If possible, provide an exercise room at work or at least areas where employees can walk over lunch.
5) Expanding National Health Services
Many people find it difficult to maintain a healthy weight without outside help. There are several services that the government is now expanding or starting.
Increasing Healthy Apps
– Easy to access apps and other online tools are available to help people make better health-related choices. Individuals are already downloading fitness apps during the Covid-19 lockdown to help them stay in shape and lose weight.
Providing Assistance for Physicians
– The government is offering doctors incentives to better help obese patients. Opportunities are available to physicians and their staff to become health coaches. General practitioners are giving advice regarding social activities and different exercises to help individuals lose weight.
Making Weight Management Easier
– The government can make staying healthy easier by prominently displaying everything from nutrition facts to BMI charts online. Business leaders can also make these items more readily available in the workplace.
By implementing these five steps, the UK hopes to lower obesity rates and improve the overall health of both adults and children. They are hoping to promote these steps in a way that encourages taking responsibility for tackling obesity at both the individual and government level. The government, as well as business leaders, can work together to improve people’s health and well-being.
In an effort to reduce obesity rates, the UK government is expanding national health services, encouraging active lifestyles, and promoting an increase in nutrition displays. They will also ban certain television advertising and end unhealthy food promotions.