The new government must provide a consistent approach in tackling obesity

Posted On: 
2nd December 2019

Launching their manifesto, Slimming World believes that this lack of consistency in how to tackle obesity has led to confusion among the public and health professionals.

Obesity is the greatest threat to our national health and that tackling it is an urgent priority for our future national wellbeing, says Jenny Caven, Slimming World’s Director of External Affairs.
Credit: 
World Obesity Federation

Slimming World, the largest group-based commercial weight loss organisation in the UK and Ireland, with around one million members, today published its manifesto which calls on the new government to take action to reduce obesity which is predicted to rise by 73% to 26 million people by 2050.

Over the past four years, successive prime ministers have had differing approaches towards how to tackle obesity, for instance on the effectiveness of a ‘sugar tax’, and a lack of clear policy or prioritisation on how best to reduce the impact of obesity on the nation’s health. Slimming World believes that this lack of consistency has led to confusion among the public and health professionals.

Slimming World’s five manifesto calls are:

A national voice for obesity

The NHS’s weight management programmes and assessed referrals systems are not working effectively. Slimming World is calling on the government to take responsibility for commissioning local, effective weight management programmes that deliver a low-cost intervention on a national scale.

Training for health professionals to enable sensitive and skilled conversations about weight

Slimming World is calling on the government to develop and implement mandatory national training for all professionals who interact with people who are overweight and obese, which must be underpinned by the understanding that anyone who struggles with their weight should be treated with kindness, care and compassion.

Clear guidance on healthy weight management in pregnancy

There is strong evidence of the risks of obesity and excess weight gain in pregnancy and yet there are no UK guidelines on what constitutes a safe weight gain. Slimming World is calling on government to introduce routine weight monitoring at key stages of pregnancy for all women, regardless of starting BMI. We also call for the introduction of clear guidelines on safe and healthy weight gain in pregnancy.

The Government must raise awareness of the calories contained in alcohol by supporting clear labelling on alcoholic drink

Most non-alcoholic food and drink products must display calorie information on the labels yet alcohol is exempt. Slimming World is calling on the government to mandate that industry introduces clear calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks so that the public can make their own informed choice.

Protection for young people and families

Slimming World’s research highlights a pressing need for support for families and young people to make healthier choices around food and drink along with changes to the way supermarkets market to their consumers. Slimming World is calling on the Government to implement policy and incentives for industry to ensure businesses are responsible when it comes to selling, labelling and incentivising the purchase of high-calorie food and drink.

Launching the new manifesto, Jenny Caven, Slimming World’s Director of External Affairs, said: “We are absolutely certain that the only way that the obesity epidemic will ever be reversed is through partnerships between government and organisations dedicated to beating this major public health problem. To have a real impact we need to start with programmes that influence the whole family and deliver effective lifestyle behaviour change at scale.

“A pattern of changing political priorities leaves the millions of people whose lives are impacted by obesity unsupported and leaves health professionals on the front line with little to offer the people in their care.

“There is no doubt that obesity is both complex and multifaceted. However, Slimming World believes that by adopting these five calls, a new government will be able to make a very real impact on obesity which has created an unsustainable financial burden on the NHS.

“The obesity epidemic and the impact that it has on health conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer as well as mental health and wellbeing needs everyone – health professionals, politicians, policy-makers and industry experts – to agree that obesity is the greatest threat to our national health and that tackling it is an urgent priority for our future national wellbeing.”

Slimming World holds around 19,000 weekly groups across Britain – in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – run by a network of 5,000 community-based Slimming World Consultants. Around one million members attend groups in community venues each week or use the digital service, Slimming World Online.

Slimming World’s full manifesto is available here.