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Photo Credit: Clara Molden/ PA
Photo Credit: Clara Molden/ PA
UK News

Christian nutritionist warns PM's new obesity campaign doesn't go far enough

by Tola Mbakwe

A Christian nutritionist has applauded the government's new strategy to tackle obesity but believes it's lacking in some areas. 

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out the details of the "Better Health" campaign as he looks to tackle the country's weight problem.

The headline changes in the obesity strategy include banning "buy one, get one free" promotions on fattening products and outlawing supermarkets from tempting shoppers with unhealthy snacks at checkouts and store entrances.

Restaurants will also have to display the calories contained in items on menus and there will be a consultation into doing the same for any alcohol sold.

The plan comes as evidence has begun to mount linking excess weight with a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

Emma Maitland-Carew, a Christian nutritionist in Oxford, told Premier Christian News that the campaign is a good start but it can't stop there. 

"It's wonderful that they have realized that obesity is so connected with Covid-19, but I do think that it's probably more complex," she said. 

"I think there's a lot of elements as to why somebody is overweight in the first place. It could be emotional. Obviously it is wrong food choices, and we've also seen that poorer communities have more obesity." 

As part of the programme, the NHS weight loss service is to be expanded, while GPs will be encouraged to prescribe bike rides, with patients in pilot areas to be given access to bikes.

But Maitland-Carew said there must be a more tailored approach. 

"Some people might not enjoy cycling, So it would be better to explore with people what they really do enjoy. We are all individuals, we're all made by God, we all have different preferences. Some people like cycling, other people like walking, other people like swimming. It's really good to explore what people like because it makes them more motivated to make changes."

With the obesity strategy planning to ban junk food adverts on TV before 9pm, Maitland-Carew said that tactic could go further. 

"I think it would also be good in an ideal world to perhaps replace it with the benefits of healthy eating and what people can choose. You can't just take something out and not really deeply educate people. You have to show them what a healthy way of eating looks like, so perhaps positive ads would be a good replacement."

A Public Health England (PHE) study published on Saturday discovered that being classed as medically obese increased the risk of death from coronavirus by 40 per cent.

The Prime Minister said: "Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier.

"If we all do our bit, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus - as well as taking pressure off the NHS."

Listen to Premier's interview with Emma Maitland-Carew here:

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