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Tackling Obesity Strategy – accessible to all?

27 July 2020

The government has today published its Tackling Obesity strategy as we are all urged to keep our weight in check, in a bid to beat coronavirus and protect our National Health Service.

The "Better Health" campaign by Public Health England, which is launched alongside the strategy, aims to empower the two-thirds of our adult population who are overweight - half of whom are obese - "to help them lose weight and live healthier lives". Measures include a 12-week plan that people can use to develop healthier eating habits and cycling prescribed by GPs. We will also see changes to the marketing and advertising of food, including a reduction of ‘by one, get one free’ (BOGOF) offers on foods high in fat, sugar and salt.

Whilst the government’s aims to introduce measures to help keep us fit and healthy are laudable, we cannot ignore that not all tactics are equally accessible to everyone. Official statistics from 2018-19 showed a clear link between obesity and deprivation - people living in deprived areas are more likely to be admitted to hospital with a condition related to obesity. We therefore need to question how widely accessible and affordable a healthy lifestyle is.

Millions of disabled people live in poverty, relying on cheaper foods and offers such as BOGOF. We are also not supported to take exercise, as most gyms and leisure facilities provide inadequate support, or are simply unaffordable. Is it therefore enough for the government to just tell us all that we need to change our life styles?