A new national campaign is under way to encourage millions of adults to kick start their health and reduce their risk of serious illness, including COVID-19.
The campaign – unveiled as part of the Government’s new Obesity Strategy – encourages adults to introduce changes that will help them work towards a healthier weight, with a suite of free tools and apps supporting people to eat better, drink less alcohol and get active. This includes a new app for the free 12-week NHS Weight Loss Plan, helping people make healthier food choices and learn skills to prevent weight gain.
The current evidence does not suggest that having excess weight increases people’s chances of contracting COVID-19. However, data shows that obese people are significantly more likely to become seriously ill and be admitted to intensive care with COVID-19 compared to those with a healthy BMI.
PHE has released a new film explaining how weight gain happens, the impact that it has on our bodies and how it increases the risk of serious diseases. The film helps people know when to act and encourages them to visit the Better Health website to find out about the available support. The powerful film can also be accessed here.
Angela Baker, Deputy Director for Public Health England South East, said: ‘Gaining weight often happens gradually over time and can be just the odd unhealthy habit mounting up particularly since we have all be working at home. Extra weight puts pressure on our bodies and reduces our strength to fight off serious diseases, including Covid-19. Covid-19 has given us a wake-up call to get our health back on track. We know how hard it can be to lose weight and keep it off – our Better Health campaign will make it easier for everyone to introduce changes that will help them maintain a healthy weight. It’s never too late – or too early – to make changes that will have a lasting impact on your health.’
David Fitzgibbon, case study from Wokingham, said: ‘Between the ages of 18 and 50 the weight just crept on gradually and every year I’d go up a trouser size. I put it down to working unsocial hours as a retail manager and commuting so not having regular meals, and after having children, had little time for anything else. Being overweight does have an impact – it would hurt going up the stairs and at one point I needed a hernia operation but was told by the doctor I’d have to lose weight first.’ David, 53, from Winnersh, Wokingham, joined Weight Watchers to help him lose the weight and said he will definitely sign up to the NHS 12-week plan. ‘I find it helps me to have a plan to stick to. The weight has crept on a bit recently and I want to feel good about myself and healthy.’
Many people have used lockdown as an opportunity to change habits and adopt healthier behaviours, yet research has shown over half the population has found it harder to stay healthy during this time. While staying active is important to help people lose weight and keep it off, improving diet is most critical as most people are consuming more calories than they need.
Alongside mass nationwide promotion, the campaign will specifically target areas and groups that are most affected by obesity and excess weight. Evidence shows that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities are disproportionately affected by obesity as well as COVID-19.
The Better Health campaign is one of a raft of measures that have been revealed as part of the Government’s new Obesity Strategy.
A range of campaign partners including WW, weight watchers reimagined, Slimming World and GetSlim are offering exclusive discounts to coincide with the launch.
Search ‘Better Health’ or visit nhs.uk/betterhealth for free tools and support to start leading a healthier lifestyle today.