THE UK announced a new £100 million funding on Thursday (4) to help children, adults and families to achieve and maintain a healthier weight.
Over £70m will be invested into weight management services – made available through the NHS and councils – helping up to 700,000 adults to lose weight, by accessing digital apps, weight management groups or individual coaches, to specialist clinical support.
The remaining £30m will fund initiatives to help people maintain a healthy weight, including access to the free NHS 12 week weight loss plan app and continuing the successful Better Health marketing campaign to motivate people to make healthier choices.
Sir Keith Mills, who has pioneered reward programmes through Airmiles and Nectar points, has been appointed to advise on developing a new “fit miles” approach that will use incentives and rewards to support people to eat better and move more.
“Losing weight is hard, but making small changes can make a big difference. 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,” said prime minister Boris Johnson.
“This funding will give extra support to people across the country who want to lose weight too.”
According to a statement, part of the funding will be used for upskilling healthcare professionals to support those in early years and childhood with intervention and enhanced training packages, helping up to 6,000 children and families to lead healthy lives.
The plans will prioritise helping those who need the most support to achieve a healthier lifestyle, including people living in some of the most deprived areas in the UK.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “We want to make it easier for people to lose weight, which is why our funding set out today ensures those across all ages have the right level of support and tools they need to make healthier lifestyle choices.
“These measures will allow us to work with local authorities and optimise different areas of our healthcare services to encourage healthy behaviours for all.”
The new funding will support GPs and other health professionals to help make weight management an integral part of routine care.
Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity – and 1 in 3 children leave primary school overweight or obese, with obesity-related illnesses costing the NHS £6 billion a year.
Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and bbesity, 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.”
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England said: “Living with obesity can have a devastating impact on people’s health and wellbeing in so many ways, not least its link this year to the increased risk from Covid. This investment will greatly boost services for adults struggling with their weight and raising the profile of our Better Health campaign will help to support more people to make healthier choices.”