By Grahame Anderson
A UK wide ban on junk food commercials before 9pm has been implemented by the Government as part of their Better Health Care strategy on obesity in England.
Buy One Get One Free
‘Buy one get one free’ deals on unhealthy food have also been outlawed, and in addition 12-week health plans will enable GP’s to hand out ‘cycling prescriptions’ in an expansion of NHS weight loss services. This will include the use of apps and exercise-on-referral, with bikes made available to those who need them.
Sweets and unhealthy snacks will be taken away from both checkouts and supermarket entrances.
Other measures will include the launch of a national campaign to help people lose weight and eat more healthily after the “wake-up call” of coronavirus. There’ll be a consultation on whether to stop fast food adverts online altogether, and a review of traffic light labelling on food and drinks sold in shops. Plus, talks on making calories labelling on alcohol drinks mandatory
Promotions on snacks will be targeted with both restaurant and takeaway chains having to publish the number of calories in their meals. while shops will have to do the same with any alcohol they sell.
Diabetes UK has invested close to £5million into researching how the condition affects Asian, Black and minority ethnic people. In fact, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is up to six times higher in certain Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups. The funding has so far supported 41 projects across the UK, with close to £4 million spent in the last decade alone.
Naina Patel, the lead researcher on the project, said: “We know that there can be higher rates of undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes and diabetes-related complications among South Asian people. It’s therefore important that the tools used to screen people for Type 2 diabetes are easy to use and understand, to make them more effective at identifying those at risk.”
Tackling BAME Health Inequalities
The whole point of growing the Diabetes Prevention Programme was to help tackle health inequalities, within BAME groups. The ongoing Southall and Brent Revisited or SABRE study for example, monitored the health of 4,200 Londoners only to discover half of all British South Asians, Africans and African Caribbean’s will have Type 2 diabetes by the age of 80. This vital information has helped push the need for Black and South Asian people to be screened for Type 2 diabetes earlier than the general population.
Professor Wasim Hanif from the South Asian Health Foundation (SAHF) has said: “We urge everyone to respect the government’s public health messages. By following some simple measures, we all have the best chance of staying healthy, and in doing so, help ease the pressure on the NHS.”
A study published by Public Health England revealed being medically obese increases the risk of death from coronavirus by 40%. 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.
The changes come in despite the prime minister previously saying he wanted to end the “continuing creep of the nanny state, which “seems to me to clobber those who can least afford it”.
In a Downing Street video released on his Twitter account, Boris Johnson admitted he was “too fat” when he was struck down by coronavirus earlier this year.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, which will lead the Better Health campaign, said: “These plans are ambitious and rightly so.
“Tackling obesity will help prevent serious illness and save lives. The main reason we put on weight is because of what we eat and drink, but being more active is important too.
“Making healthier choices easier and fairer for everyone, and ensuring the right support is there for those who need it, is critical in tackling obesity.”
Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, added: “Being overweight or obese puts people at risk of many diseases, including 13 different types of cancer, and disproportionately affects people from poorer backgrounds so the plan will hugely help to level-up the country and build a healthier population.”
Analysis published by Cancer Research UK from September 2019 showed that almost half of all food adverts shown over the month on ITV1, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky One were for products high in fat, sugar and salt, rising to almost 60% during the 6pm to 9pm slot when children’s viewing peaks.
A Government spokeswoman said: “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.”
Labour Call For Action
Alex Norris MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Minister, responding to the government’s new strategy for tackling obesity, said:
“Labour has long campaigned for radical action to tackle obesity.
“But an effective obesity strategy needs action, not consultation. The Tories have pared public health to the bone and people are paying the price for ten years of this complacency.”
Beating BAME Obesity
It’s hoped these new measures will help BAME communities across the UK to beat obesity which is linked with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.