‘Anti-obesity campaigns should be as hard-hitting as smoking ads’

Campaigns designed to help tackle the UK’s growing obesity problem should be as “hard hitting” as anti-smoking ads, according to a report from the National Obesity Forum.

Video: The latest Change4Life TV ad


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The report found estimates made in 2007 that half of the UK population will be overweight by 2050 at an annual cost of nearly £50bn, “underestimates” the scale of the national obesity problem.

The forum has called for “concerted action” to tackle the issue from the Government and health officials.

National Obesity Forum chairman Professor David Haslam says: “Initiatives such as Change4Life are very well intentioned and directed but cannot be expected to solve one of the great public health problems of our time on their own.

“We’ve seen hard hitting campaigns against smoking and it’s time to back up the work that’s already being done with a similar approach to obesity.”

Professor Haslam advises there should be more support and “better signposting” to services for people who are already obese and more importance placed on what people drink and how that affects their health.

The recommendations come just weeks after Public Health England (PHE), the Department of Health’s executive body, launched a new £5m Change4Life marketing push. The activity has been simplified from previous campaigns to explain how consumers can make “smart swaps” within categories including soft drinks, cheeses and butters. 

Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at PHE, says: “Obesity is an international problem. It is a complex issue that requires action at national, local, family and individual level.

“Everyone has a role to play in improving the health and wellbeing of the public, and children in particular. PHE are committed to helping to tackle obesity through a range of approaches that support action on the local environment to make eating less and being more physically active easier.”

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