We agree with the BMA’s report Food for Thought – there needs to be a strong regulatory framework and concerted action across all government departments to work on the prevention of health harms arising from obesity and poor diets.
Although it is the NHS that is responsible for helping individual patients with the consequences of poor diets, the way to prevent this happening in the first place is to take action across the complex pattern of our lives – our environment, our transport, our leisure activities, our shopping and eating habits, and our education.
Every government department should be not just passively aware of these issues, but actively producing policies to support the reduction in obesity and health harms.
The RCP will continue to work collaboratively with a range of organisations to ensure that this issue remains high on the public health agenda.
The NHS too can lead by example – our recent RCP report Work and Wellbeing in the NHS said that only 28% of NHS trusts in England reported having a plan or policy to help reduce overweight and obesity among staff.
Many NHS organisations offer poor access to affordable, healthy food – particularly for those working overnight – and on-site retail outlets selling cheap confectionery and junk food are common.
The NHS could do more to provide healthy options for staff and visitors as part of a package of measures to improve health and wellbeing.