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Reducing obesity: Our position statement

Obesity is a major risk factor in the development of Type 2 diabetes. We know that our environment does not always make it easy for us to make healthy choices. In fact sometimes they can make the healthy choice harder to make.

To slow down the rising number of people living with Type 2 diabetes we need strong, ambitious action from the Government, food and drink industry and others to reduce obesity across society.

Download our full position statement on prevention of Type 2 diabetes: Whole-society interventions to reduce obesity (PDF, 3MB)

Government, the food and drink industry and others should take action to ensure:

  • Consistent and clear food labelling so that people can easily understand what is in the food we buy
  • Food and drink products are healthier, by reducing sugar, saturated fat and salt and reducing portion size
  • Healthy choices in shops, cafes and takeaways are encouraged
  • Marketing of unhealthy (junk) food to children on TV and online is further restricted through stronger regulation
  • That unhealthy food is not the cheaper option – restrict price promotions on unhealthy food
  • People move more – physical activity is encouraged and increased
  • Healthy choices in the public sector – when people are at work and school
  • Local planning promotes access to healthy food and physical activity
  • Healthy living messages are promoted and people know what they can do to reduce their risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Our position on current progress to reduce obesity

  • Diabetes UK was disappointed by the lack of ambition in the Childhood Obesity Plan (COP) published in August 2016. It fell far short of the urgent and ambitious action that is needed to reduce childhood obesity including tackling junk food marketing to children, price promotions on unhealthy food and encouraging calorie labelling on food eaten out of the home.
  • However, we welcome and support the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (sometimes called the sugar tax) as a way to help reduce sugar intake and obesity rates, though it will not solve the crisis alone.
  • We also support Public Health England’s Sugar Reduction Programme. We want to see clear, transparent and robust data publication on the programme’s progress as well as ongoing evaluation.
  • We are encouraged that the COP states the potential opportunities from Brexit for making front-of-pack labelling more widely used and the Government’s intention to look at how ‘free sugars’ can be included on labels.
  • In Wales, Diabetes UK Cymru co-Chairs Obesity Alliance Cymru (OAC). OAC is calling on Welsh Government to develop a strong and ambitious national obesity strategy.
  • In Scotland we are engaging with the Scottish Government’s consultation on their obesity strategy and will make sure that this is not watered down.
  • In Northern Ireland we want to see an increase in the percentage of children and adults eating a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet, and the percentage of the population meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines on physical activity by the stated target for 2022, in line with the Fitter Future For All Strategy 2012–2022.

The Obesity Health Alliance

We are pleased to be a steering group member of the Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of around 40 organisations that have come together to tackle the complex issue of overweight and obesity in the UK with one voice and one set of policy solutions. Go to the Obesity Health Alliance website to find out more about our shared work and policy positions.

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