Blog: Dean BestThe UK chews the fat over obesity

Dean Best | 12 November 2008

Even the UK went a bit Obama-crazy last week but, in recent days, the “O” word on everyone's lips has been obesity.

This week has seen one of the UK's big public health issues return to centre stage. An event was held marking the one-year anniversary of the launch of the government-backed Foresight report into tackling obesity.

The UK government, meanwhile, formally unveiled Change4Life, an anti-obesity drive backed by food manufacturers, retailers, broadcasters and charities.

UK Health Secretary Alan Johnson lauded Change4Life as the catalyst for a “lifestyle revolution” in which an ever-more obese population will eat more healthily and take more exercise.

The scheme, which is backed by the likes of Tesco, Kellogg and PepsiCo, has a lot of promise but, as we all know, obesity is a hydra-headed monster.

The problem of how to effectively tackle obesity was fiercely debated at the event held to mark a year since the publication of the Foresight report on the issue.

Representatives from industry, academia, science and the media analysed just what role convenience foods were playing in tackling obesity and, as you'd expect, the discussion was a passionate one – as you can see from our coverage of the event.

If anything, however, the debate did not go on for long enough, proof, if any were needed, of the fierce arguments surrounding the best way to tackle obesity and of how many factors are at play.

One issue that needs further discussion and analysis is the issue of price – particularly in the current economic climate. Price plays a vital role in what consumers buy and what they eat and often consumers believe that to eat healthily is to eat expensively.

Should Government step in and encourage industry to price healthier foods more cheaply?


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