Does traffic light labelling really have the potential to reduce obesity rates in the UK? Student ID: c3256845
The current situation regarding obesity in the UK
The past twenty years has seen obesity rates in the UK increase dramatically (HSCIC, 2013), resulting in the reduction and prevention of obesity becoming a major public health priority. The World Health Organisation (WHO) (2013) defines obesity as ‘abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health’ and body max index (BMI) is commonly used in the classification of overweight and obesity. A BMI of 25-29 makes an individual overweight and a BMI of 30 or above is classified as obese (WHO, 2013). A concerning statistic showed that in 2011 a mere 34% of men and 39% of women were defined as being a healthy weight; with a BMI between 18.5 and 25 (NHS, 2013), compared with rates in 1993 where 44% of men and 50% of women fell into this category (HSCIC, 2013). The Health Survey for England in 2010 (NHS: The Information Centre, 2012) stated that 62.8% of adults and 30.3% of children are overweight or obese, with 26.1% of these adults and 16% of these children being obese. Obesity is a major risk factor for the development of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, some cancers and may be detrimental to certain social aspects of life, such as finding work and can affect mental health (Department of Health, 2013). As a result of these obesity trends in 2011 it was found that approximately half of obese men and women suffered from high blood pressure and there were nearly 12,000 admissions to hospital for obesity related illnesses in 2011-2012, which had increased more than 11 times compared with figures in 2001-2002 (NHS, 2013). In 2007, the Foresight Report (Department of Health, 2007) predicted that without action being taken 60% men, 50% and 25% children would be obese by 2050. Alongside these serious implications for health and quality of life, obesity is a growing burden on the economy; the Foresight report, 2007 predicts that by 2050 £9.7 billion a year will be spent on treating obesity related illnesses (Department of Health, 2007). In addition to this costs to society attributable to overweight and obesity are predicted to reach £49.9 billion by 2050 (WHO, 2013). Fundamentally overweight and obesity are caused by an energy imbalance over a prolonged period of time, where energy intake is higher than energy output (WHO, 2013). However there are societal influences which may contribute to the epidemic in the UK and globally: * Easy access of high energy and high fat foods, resulting in increased consumption. * Convenience and accessibility of fast foods and fast food outlets e.g. Mc Donald’s, takeaways which offer free delivery. These foods are also often affordable and are commonly on offer in shops and supermarkets e.g. buy one get one free. * Low levels of physical activity due to factors such as sedentary jobs, increased car users, spending long periods of time watching television/ playing computer games (NHS Choices, 2013). What is being done to tackle obesity?
The Government’s aim is to see evidence of a reduced prevalence of excess weight in both adults and children by 2020. Due to the wide range of factors which contribute to obesity e.g. society, family, education, income, there are different initiatives underway to tackle the problem including the ‘Chage4life’ programme, encouraging businesses to display calories on their menus and guidance on increased physical activity (Department of Health, 2013). All businesses have been encouraged to sign up to the Public Health responsibility deal, which has been designed to aid people in making healthier choices through pledges such as reducing consumption of harmful ingredients (salt and saturated fat) in food, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and consuming fewer calories (Department of Health, 2013). The initiative which will be focused on in this assignment...
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