Child Obesity Strategy must encourage a whole-family approach
Slimming World has welcomed the publication of the government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy and, in particular, the measures to restrict the marketing techniques and promotions used by the food and drink industry to persuade people to consume more.
Slimming World’s mission is to tackle obesity through a whole-family approach by educating and supporting its 900,000 members to navigate the modern obesogenic environment and adopt healthier habits. Jenny Caven, Slimming World’s Head of External Affairs, says the UK and Ireland’s largest weight management organisation with 18,000 local weekly groups, is greatly encouraged by the Government’s recognition that health professionals need the right resources to support children and families to maintain a healthy weight.
Jenny Caven says: “Obesity is a complex and multi-layered issue that has an impact on physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing. The public is confused about how to eat healthily and is constantly bombarded with promotion of foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar. Arming people with knowledge to make healthier choices is essential and equipping families to eat healthily and become more active are the key to a healthy future for our children. There is strong evidence of a link between parents who are overweight and a child’s propensity to obesity and we agree that new initiatives and policy must encourage a whole-family approach.
“It is essential that people who struggle with their weight aren’t stigmatised. We need to work together with health professionals to create a culture of concern, care and compassion to help families make healthier choices. We need to shift the balance towards eating plenty of foods that are low in energy density and are the foundations of normal everyday meals and create safe, accessible opportunities for families to be active. We believe the Government should support a national training programme for healthcare professionals to help them effectively raise the issue of obesity and weight management, giving them skills to recognise when it would be beneficial to raise the issue of weight with patients in a sensitive and skilled way; understand the difficulties that people suffering from overweight or obesity face and recognise the need for empathy and care in helping them to address the issue; and be familiar with the options of where to signpost patients, pupils or students for advice, practical real-life solutions and support in making sustainable healthy lifestyle changes.
Arming people with knowledge to make healthier choices is essential and equipping families to eat healthily and become more active are the key to a healthy future for our children.
“Consumers are being overwhelmed with information in a food and drink market that can be difficult to understand. The industry uses numerous marketing ploys initiatives and consumer psychology to maximise sales, leading to the industry being worth more than £100 billion annually in the UK. Most consumers will be familiar with common practices such as buy-one-get-one-free offers, half price deals on certain products, reduced for a limited time or multi-pack discount bargains on food and drink. All of these techniques are used to maximise profit whilst making consumers feel like they’ve received a good deal. When Slimming World and the Royal Society of Public Health conducted research in 2017 to ask the general public about their experience of upselling – to be persuaded to buy food or drink additional or more expensive than they otherwise would have bought – nearly 80% of them said they had experienced being upsold to at least once in a week. Young people are even more likely to be exposed to upselling, with 18-24 year-olds experiencing it 166 times each year – nearly every other day – and going on to consume an extra 750 calories per week as a result. We call for the Government to address upselling alongside legislation to ban buy one get one free deals as the practice can easily increase the extra unsatisfying calories we are consuming, often without us realising it.”