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What we say about… Healthy weight

Obesity, nutrition and physical activity · Position statements | November 13, 2023

Our key messages

  • The UK has the fourth highest level of people living with obesity in Europe with obesity directly responsible for at least 200,000 new cancer cases annually and around a third of children in their final year of primary school overweight or living with obesity.


  • Preventative actions are required to promote healthy weight, reduce health inequalities and lessen the burden on the health and social care system.


  • A whole system approach is required to create an environment that promotes good health and enables healthy eating and positive attitudes to food with more power given to local public health authorities to protect people from obesogenic environments.


  • National action is needed to limit the marketing of high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) foods.

Our national recommendations

  • Marketing for HFSS food and drink products should be banned on all media devices before the 21:00 watershed and sponsorship by HFSS brands should be restricted.


  • Health Impact Assessments should be utilised to create a healthier environment with local communities included in local planning and decision making.


  • Local authorities (LAs) should be enabled to respond to obesity challenges through increased powers over licensing and planning.


  • Food standards in all settings should be updated and nutritional standards should be raised in schools.


  • All frontline staff in the public sector should be trained to have action focused conversations about healthy weight, nutrition, physical activity, breastfeeding, and behaviour change in a compassionate manner.

Our local recommendations

  • Local public health authorities should take a preventative approach and develop joint strategies with partners to prioritise good nutrition and healthy weight.


  • Healthy weight pathways should be in every health and social care programme as an essential part of keeping people healthy, including free-to-access weight management programmes.


  • GPs and other professionals should deliver brief interventions in a compassionate manner to motivate weight loss in patients where appropriate.


  • Behaviour change services should adopt a more holistic approach to understanding individual behaviours rather than focusing on addressing behaviours.


  • Public sector providers, including NHS trusts and LAs, should have healthy and sustainable catering and vending policies.


  • LAs should invest in better pavement quality, street lighting and road maintenance to improve access to active travel and provide more green spaces, and subsidise/free access to sport and leisure services to promote physical activity such as Parkrun.
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