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Action on Salt

Obesity Health Alliance release Turning the Tide: A 10 year Healthy Weight Strategy


Today the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA), a coalition including Action on Sugar, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK and medical royal colleges, has released their report ‘Turning the Tide: A 10-year Healthy Weight Strategy’. The report sets out a long-term agenda for action with 30 policy recommendations and calls on the Government to take action to reverse the persistently high levels of excess weight in the population.

The OHA brought together a group of leading clinicians, academic and policy specialists to assess the evidence related to the multiple factors that influence healthy weight. Turning the Tide emphasises that change is possible, with a system-wide approach that includes multiple policies that work together to both change the environment and provide support to individuals.

Recommendations include ensuring the full implementation of long-awaited new policies included in the Health and Care Bill, such as the 9pm watershed on junk food adverts on TV (initially committed to by the Government in 2018) and removing paid-for adverts online. These should be implemented in full and without any further delays or watering down.

As a next step the Government should use their forthcoming Food White Paper to address other drivers of poor diet such as bringing in a reformulation levy on the food industry to incentivise the production of healthier food and drink. The OHA also recommends that the Government builds on existing policy approaches by phasing out other forms of influential junk food marketing including child-friendly packaging and sports sponsorship.

Katharine Jenner, Campaign Director for Action on Salt and Action on Sugar, said: "We need to turn the tide on obesity.  To do that, we need to make the heathier choice the easier choice, and that’s what this report has done for Boris Johnson. The health community have united to put forward a roadmap to help Boris make the easy choice, that is; to tackle the food systems that prevent us from leading healthier lives, rather than continuing to blame individuals who have little control of their food environment."

Mhairi Brown, Policy and Public Affairs Manager for Action on Salt and Action on Sugar, said: “The evidence is clear: we must reorder our food system if we are to turn the tide on obesity. This new report sets out a clear roadmap of necessary policies, including a levy on the food industry to ensure they reformulate their products to include less salt, sugar and saturated fat; giving consumers an instant view of what’s in that food through mandatory nutrition labelling; and ensuring children have the best start in life with healthy infant food. With bold Government leadership, this roadmap is easily achievable.”

Sheena Bhageerutty, Assistant Nutritionist for Action on Salt and Action on Sugar, said: "We are all aware that there is no ‘silver bullet’ to halt the rise of obesity - the UK must be the first country in the world to implement a whole systems approach. This new Healthy Weight Strategy encompasses the multiple drivers of obesity with recommendations covering reformulation, extending promotion restrictions, mandatory obesity services and eradicating weight stigma through communication. These should all be enforced to turn the tide on obesity, help tackle prevalent health inequalities and support those living with obesity."

Professor Dame Anne Johnson, chair of the expert working group advising the OHA said: “The majority of people in the UK have a weight classed as overweight or obese and this will continue without ongoing and comprehensive action from Government. We reviewed the evidence across the multiple factors that influence healthy weight, and if the Government commits to bold new policies, we can turn the tide, reducing obesity and greatly improve our nation’s health.”

John Maingay, director of policy and influencing at the British Heart Foundation said: “Evidence shows that introducing bold policies to create a healthier environment for everyone is the route to improving our nation’s health. After years of focusing on education and awareness measures, the UK Government has started to move in the right direction with an obesity strategy which focuses on making the healthy option the easy option. We must now build on this with forward-thinking policies, such as placing a levy on companies to encourage them to produce healthier food. This will set in train the positive change we need to reduce the devastating impact obesity has in the UK today.” 

Professor Linda Bauld OBE, academic lead for the project said:Turning the tide on obesity is achievable. Over the same three decades in which obesity has continued to rise, UK smoking rates have been halved - achieved through a series of comprehensive government strategies. ‘Turning the Tide’ sets out a clear evidence-based agenda for policies and interventions to bring about similar success and reduce the impact of excess weight on a range of diseases. 

Angela Chesworth, an obesity patient advocate, said:People living with obesity deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We all deserve access to treatments that will improve our health. We also need to stand up to weight stigma and bias which is proven to be detrimental to psychological and physical health. It’s time to eradicate obesity stigma for good and focus on the policies that will actually improve health.”



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