Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO) statement on government’s anti-obesity policy announcement

We welcome government action on the urgent societal problem of obesity. Effective policies that make a real difference in reducing obesity rates will have knock on effects for obesity-related ill health – not least the clear and alarming link with complications and death from COVID-19.

The government’s new strategy on obesity is a positive first step but obesity is a complex disease. This requires a multi-level “whole system” approach with upstream policies to support people without exacerbating already widening inequalities or weight stigma. This needs to be underpinned by a programme of research and evaluation that assesses long term impacts and outcomes across the whole system.

We commend the interest in educating health care professionals about obesity, the expansion of NHS weight management services, and the incentives to primary care to manage obesity. However, this can only occur when we have better weight management services across the country that the GPs can refer to. Indeed, there needs for better access to all weight management treatments, from lifestyle interventions to bariatric surgery in order to meet patient demands, especially those living with severe obesity.

We acknowledge that the steps suggested in the government’s plan highlight how obesity is not a personal responsibility, but note that the anticipated policies do not go far enough to address biological and environmental drivers that oppose sustainable changes in behaviour.

On Thursday 30th July at 6-7.30PM, ASO will host a webinar on COVID-19 and obesity with expert contributors from the public health perspective. There will be a special panel discussion reflecting on the UK government’s anti-obesity strategy with debate on short and long-term priorities for action #ASOWEBINARS see https://www.aso.org.uk/ for details.

The Association for the Study of Obesity, established since 1967 is dedicated to the scientific understanding, prevention and treatment of obesity. ASO is a scientific society and we support and promote an evidence based approach through the pursuit of excellence in research, education and practice.

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