The government launched its Healthy weight, healthy lives strategy to tackle rising obesity. The strategy opened with the statement ‘Britain is in the grip of an epidemic’, highlighting that two-thirds of all adults and children were either overweight or obese. The government suggested that if action was not taken by 2050 the proportion of people becoming overweight or obese would rise to 9 out of 10 adults and two-thirds of children. The societal cost of obesity by 2050 was put at a figure of £50bn per year.
The government expressed its ambition to be the first major country to reverse the rising obesity trend by equipping people to be able to reach healthy weights and lead healthy lives. The strategy initially focused its efforts on reducing the number of obese and overweight children to the same levels as in 2000 by 2020.
The strategy set out five domains in which the government would take action:
- promoting the health of children – investing £75m in a marketing campaign to support and encourage parents to make positive changes in the diet and physical activity levels of their children
- promoting healthier food choices – work with industry and other stakeholders to produce a Healthy Food Code of Good Practice to encourage the food and drink industry to reduce the consumption of salt, sugar and saturated fat
- building physical activity into people’s lives – the government committed to review its overall approach to physical support, including the role of Sport England
- personalising advice and support – through the provision of clear and comprehensive information for the public to access through NHS Choices
- creating incentives for better health – including working with businesses to find ways of promoting healthy lives and healthy eating.
The strategy was supported by a government investment of £372m for the period 2008–2011 to promote, achieve and maintain healthy weights for people.