Health Matters – obesity and the food environment
December 9, 2019
Public Health England has just launched the
latest edition of Health Matters, which focuses on obesity and the food environment.
Obesity can lead to serious diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, it can
affect self-esteem and underlying mental health, and affect a person’s quality of life and
life chances. In 2015 two thirds of adults in England were
classed as being overweight or obese, with one in four adults classed as obese. And a third of 10-11 year olds and over a
fifth of 4-5 year olds were overweight or obese.
At current rates, it’s projected that 60% of adult men and half of adult women will
be obese by 2050, along with a quarter of all children.
It is estimated that the NHS in England spent £6.1 billion on overweight and obesity-related
ill-health in 2014 to 15. Failing to address the challenge posed by the obesity epidemic
will place an even greater burden on local councils and NHS resources in the future.
No-one is ‘immune’ to obesity but some people are more likely to become overweight
or obese than others. Income, social deprivation and ethnicity have an important impact on
the likelihood of becoming obese. Obesity prevalence of the most deprived 10%
of the population is approximately twice that of the least deprived 10%. Behaviour, environment, genetics and culture
all play a part in the rise in obesity. The evidence base for eating a healthy diet is
compelling, but we still find it difficult to eat healthily. This is primarily because
we are living in an obesogenic environment that encourages weight gain and obesity.
The increasing consumption of out-of-home meals has been identified as one of the key
factors contributing to rising levels of obesity. For instance, one fifth of children eat food
from out of home food outlets at least once a week and the highest density of takeaways
is in areas of highest deprivation. This edition of Health Matters focuses specifically
on what can be done to improve the food environment so that healthier options are accessible,
available and affordable. This can only be accomplished through a collaborative approach,
with effective partnerships and co-ordinated action at a local level across the public,
private and voluntary sectors, with councils taking this forward through their leadership.
Please take a look at the Health Matters online resource. It includes recommendations and
supporting materials including downloadable infographics and slides that you can use in
presentations and in discussions with colleagues, case studies and videos. Thank you for watching.