Britain’s obesity crisis needs to be tackled immediately, warns Public Health Minister

Obesity: Appetite-suppressant drug ‘breakthrough’ revealed

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A £100million campaign to tackle the problem has been unveiled by the Government. Ms Churchill said the funding will help people ditch unhealthy lifestyles and protect the NHS.  Under the plans outlined yesterday, people could also be offered rewards for shedding the pounds. The Government will invest more than £70million in weight loss support for up to 700,000 people, which will include apps, support groups, individual coaching and nutrition plans.

The remaining £30million will fund initiatives to help people maintain a healthy weight.

One of them will be a free NHS 12-week weight loss plan app, and there will be a marketing campaign to encourage better choices.

Ms Churchill said: “This pandemic has shone a light on areas where we need to make a change, and the urgency of tackling obesity is one of the most critical.

“This was brought home by this week’s World Health Organisation report, which found obese people are two-thirds more likely to be admitted to hospital with the virus and three-times more likely to need intensive care.

“Obesity is one of the biggest health issues we face as a country. Almost two-thirds of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity, and one in three children leave primary school overweight or obese.”

Entrepreneur Sir Keith Mills, who pioneered reward programmes with Air Miles and Nectar Card points, has been drafted in to help develop a new “fit miles” incentive scheme.

Ms Churchill said: “Keith will help us test ways to support people to eat better and move more.

“Losing weight is hard, but making small changes can make a big difference. Our world-leading strategy to tackle obesity will make it easier for children, adults and families to make ­healthier choices.

“It’s vital we take action on ­obesity now in order to protect the NHS and improve our health as a nation.”

The cash will also fuel efforts to tackle the problem early. Health professionals will be trained to support childhood interventions to help up to 6,000 children and their families improve their lifestyles.

Officials said the plans would make a priority those most in need of support, including people living in deprived areas. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Being overweight increases the risk of becoming ill with Covid. 

“If we all do our bit, we can reduce our own health risks, but also help take pressure off the NHS.” Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and obesity, said: “Obesity is associated with higher risks of Type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, many of the common cancers and is now linked with more severe Covid-19 outcomes.

“So there does indeed need to be wider action to support people to lose weight.” Children and young people struggling with their mental health will also receive extra help.

The number of mental health support teams in schools and colleges will grow from 59 to 400 by April 2023, supporting almost three million children.

Access to community mental health services will be expanded, making it available to 22,500 more youngsters by 2021/22.

The plans are backed by £79million in funding, part of a £500million package for mental health.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I am incredibly conscious of the impact the pandemic has had on peoples’ mental health and wellbeing.”

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