News and Updates
Co-Chair of the APPG on Obesity, Eleanor Smith MP, sent a letter to The Times today discussing the issues of junk food advertising, sugar tax and obesity/weight management training. As she rightly says, ‘unless obesity is discussed - it cannot be treated.’ Read the full letter below:
Leeds Lowers The Level of Childhood Obesity
In May, it was announced at the European Congress on Obesity that Leeds had managed to reduce the number of children who are significantly overweight. The data - compiled from a official school measuring programme - showed there had been a 6.4% fall in obesity rates over recent years.
What was particularly impressive was the fact that the biggest falls have been seen among the most deprived areas. Rates of obesity fell by nearly 9% in some of the worst off neighbourhoods in the city.
The city council developed a child-obesity strategy a decade ago that made this age group a key priority.
Staff who work with pre-school children, including children's centres workers and health visitors, were trained to promote healthy eating. On top of that, parenting classes encouraged healthy snacking, eating as a family and the importance of cooking nutritious meals from scratch.
This rare sign of progress in a field usually dominated by negative headlines is proof of the work which can be done to reverse current obesity traits. The APPG on Obesity commends the preventative work being carried out in Leeds and and will continue to call on Government to take a new approach to tackle obesity through prevention and treatment.
The APPG on Obesity responds to government consultation
The All-Party Parliamentary Group have submitted a response to the Government’s consultation on restricting promotions of products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) by location and price. The consultation sought views on:
Restricting volume-based price promotions of HFSS food and drink that encourage people to buy more than they need
Restricting the placement of HFSS food and drink at main selling locations in stores
Definitions for HFSS products, price promotions and locations in stores
How businesses can put this into practice and whether they will face any difficulties
The All-Party Parliamentary Group welcomes this important consultation and agrees that the restrictions suggested in this consultation should apply to all retail businesses in England that sell food and drink products, including franchises. Having said that, the response also reiterates the need for a whole systems approach to the obesity issue; one that engages with the whole obesity pathway, from prevention right through to treatment.
Please find our consultation response here:
APPG on Obesity Treatment Event
Following a successful International Conference in January 2019, the APPG sought to turn its focus toward the proficiency and accessibility of obesity treatment services in the country. On 11th March 2019, policy makers, clinical experts, healthcare professionals and patients met in Portcullis House to discuss current obesity service provision and address what could be done to improve services.
The event produced some informative and enriching discussion. Not only did it provide attendees with a comprehensive picture of the current landscape of treatment services, it also sought to find solutions to help improve accessibility to these services across the UK.
The agenda from the event is available here.
Eleanor Smith MP, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Obesity, discussed her thoughts on obesity following the International Conference on Obesity. Watch it here:
Fizz Free February
Today marks the start of Fizz Free February, a project launched by Southwark Council to try and get people to reduce their sugar intake by cutting out fizzy drinks. Fizzy drinks are the largest single source of sugar for children aged 11-18, and they provide an average of 29% of daily sugar intake.
Sign up to Fizz Free February to develop new habits to make it easier to cut down on fizzy drinks for the rest of the year.
The International Conference on Obesity
The centrepiece of the Obesity APPG’s calendar, the International Conference, took place on January 14th 2019. This important summit brought together US, European and UK experts, international health ministers and policy makers, and people with obesity to examine whether obesity should be recognised as a disease in the UK. A riveting discussion focused on the effects recognition might have on the NHS, while making comparisons to other countries which had already made this step. The following topics were discussed by a panel of expert speakers:
Panel 1: Why/why not declare obesity a disease? Is it a lifestyle condition, a genetic disease, or something else?
Panel 2: What would it mean to declare obesity a disease?
Panel 3: What does the future look like?
The conference also featured impressive keynote speeches from Jonathan Valabhji, National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity, and Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for the Department of Health and Social Care. The event was a triumph and laid out the framework for the development of the obesity narrative.
You can find the agenda for the event here:
Letter to the National Union of Journalists
On 6th April 2018, an open letter was sent to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in an attempt to work collaboratively on improving the current media portrayal of obesity. This letter was supported by a range of health organisations and professional bodies, as well as UK university departments and research groups.
Weight stigma and discrimination has been highlighted in UK media on several occasions, and there are calls for media portrayal to be improved. In May 2018, the APPG on Obesity launched its inquiry findings from ‘The current landscape of obesity services’ which highlighted the commonality of weight stigma and discrimination experiences. With research evidence highlighting the associated health decrements of these experiences, reducing weight stigma and discrimination and improving the portrayal of people with overweight and obesity is a priority for many healthcare practitioners and academics.
Despite contacting the National Union of Journalists on three separate occasions, a response has not been received. Dr Stuart W. Flint, Senior Research Fellow at Leeds Beckett University, will be making continued attempts to contact the National Union of Journalists, with the intention of working together with the NUJ to improve the portrayal of overweight and obesity in the media. This letter is shared here for information.
You can find a copy of the letter here.
APPG Chair Andrew Selous MP Backs Plans for Energy Drink Ban
Obesity All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Chair Andrew Selous has backed plans by the Government for a ban on the sale of energy drinks to children.
Andrew Selous MP said:
“Parents and teachers are clear that high-caffeine, high-sugar drinks can lead children to be unfocused, disruptive and hyperactive, and can cause health problems including head and stomach aches, and obesity. Some retailers already ban sales of energy drinks to young people, but others allow children to buy four 250ml cans of energy drinks for just £1.
“Industry labelling guidelines already mean drinks with more than 150mg of caffeine per litre have to carry a warning label about their unsuitability for children – but I agree with the Government, and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, that now is the time to step in and limit access for all children. In our recent report, we called for a national obesity strategy to bring together these plans and policies to tackle both adult and childhood obesity.”
27% of adults in England have obesity. A further 36% are overweight. A new Parliamentary briefing provides statistics on obesity among adults and children in the UK, along with data on prescriptions, surgery, and international comparisons.
18th January 2018
Please see the full report here.
PHOTOS: First full meeting of the APPG
28th November 2017
The All-Party Group held its first full meeting of the year after its AGM, with Maggie Throup MP chairing, supported by Eleanor Smith MP and Baroness Jenkin of Kennington, vice chairs.
The speakers were:
Dr Jenifer Smith, who is running a programme at Public Health England to make obesity and diabetes services accessible through technology.
Dr Matt Capehorn, head of the Rotherham Institute for Obesity.
Dr Alexander Miras, clinical senior lecturer in metabolic medicine at Imperial College London and consultant endocrinologist.
Paul Stevenson, a patient speaker with an inspiring story.
The minutes will be available on this page shortly.
Obesity APPG Chair speaks at IFSO Conference
Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Obesity, Maggie Throup MP, spoke at the World Congress of the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders in London, the global annual gathering of bariatric and metabolic surgery experts. She joined figures such as the national clinical director for obesity and diabetes, Prof Jonathan Valabhji, to respond to presentations by renowned clinicians such as Prof Rachel Batterham, Prof Francesco Rubino and Mr Richard Welbourn, consultant surgeon and world congress president for IFSO 2017.
Ms Throup, who has a background in healthcare, spoke of the importance of changing attitudes towards the obese, with the aim of saving money and improving quality of life.
Speaking at IFSO, Maggie Throup MP said:
“We have already heard of CCGs restricting treatment to those who smoke or are overweight, and too many professionals still think obesity is purely a lifestyle choice.
“It is the responsibility of legislators such as myself to challenge these attitudes and get the message over that obesity is a disease which can be treated. I know from my career in healthcare that the silo culture in the NHS hasn't changed in many years, and people can't see that when you spend money in one area, you save it in another.
“It isn't just politicians that have the mindset that obese patients do not deserve treatment, but much of the public as well, and we need to challenge that.”