Supporting World Obesity Day – 11th October 2017

Supporting World Obesity Day – 11th October 2017

Today Food Active is supporting the 3rd annual World Obesity Day. Here are a few words from the organisers, The World Obesity Federation about the history, background and aims of the campaign which takes place on the 11th October every year.


“World Obesity Day was established by the World Obesity Federation in 2015 as part of our Action Initiative, with the goal of stimulating practical actions to help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight and reverse the global obesity crisis. The four main aims of World Obesity Day are:

  • To increase knowledge and understanding of the challenge of obesity, and what can be done to overcome it.
  • To encourage advocacy and campaigning on obesity-related issues.
  • To encourage governments to take action to meet their commitment to halt the rise in obesity by 2025.
  • To share national experiences of campaigning to enable the spread of best practices.

Each World Obesity Day is themed around a pressing issue related to obesity. Last year’s event focused on childhood obesity and was marked by the release of data showing 268 million children were projected to have overweight or obesity by 2025. The event was picked up by media around the globe, with press coverage in over 19 countries. Over 14,000 tweets were sent using the hashtag #WorldObesityDay and our Thunderclap campaign had a social reach of 6,582,764.

This year, World Obesity Day will call for early intervention to tackle obesity to avoid the consequences later on. We will highlight the costs of treating diseases related directly to obesity – a projected US$1.2 trillion per year by 2025 – contrasted with the smaller cost of treating obesity now. Our hope is to achieve an even bigger reach than last year and put real pressure on governments to invest in treatment services, early intervention and prevention, with the ultimate goal of relieving the pressure on health services and creating a healthier future for all”

Obesity Prevalence – a UK Perspective

Based on current trends and stats released in the run up to World Obesity Day, the World Obesity Federation predicts that 34% of the adult population in the UK, equating to over 17 million adults, will be obese by 2025.

Furthermore, the Obesity Health Alliance have released some further statistics to put the costs of this obesity burden compared to industry food and drink marketing into perspective. To see their full press release, click here.

  • Top spending crisp, confectionary and sugary drinks brands put over £143 million a year into advertising their products
  • This dwarfs the £5.2 million annual spend on Government’s flagship health eating campaign – creating a highly contradictory message for children and adults.
  • Meanwhile the NHS spends an estimated £38 million a year on weight loss surgery

These costs pose an unsustainable burden on the UK’s already fragile healthcare systems – just for who long it can continue, we do not know.  Furthermore, 10 years of National Child Measurement Programme child obesity trends and patterns data was published last month. Whilst there are some positive patterns developing such as reduced incidence of children starting school obese, on the whole trends paint a disappointing picture considering the negative health outcomes of obesity in early years.

  • Trends in obesity in Year 6 girls and boys continue to show year on year increases – rate of increase also speeding up on previous year’s data (2014/15).
  • Widening inequalities in excess weight, overweight and obesity prevalence by deprivation centile – the most deprived children are twice as likely to be obese compared to the least deprived.
  • Increasing prevalence of obesity in Year 6 Bangladeshi, Black African, Indian, Pakistani and White British boys and girls.


Obesity Prevalence – a North West Perspective

The North West of England is disproportionately burdened with obesity across the lifespan, as well as other related non-communicable diseases.

  • In reception and year 6 aged children 9.8% and 20.6% are classified as obese respectively, compared to 9.3% and 19.8% for the national average.
  • At local authority level, Knowsley, Barrow in Furnace, St Helens, Greater Manchester and Copeland are amongst the worst offenders, some with as high as 13.7% and 25% in reception and year 6 children.
  • New Health Profiles Data also released this year shows similar trends of unhealthy weights of adults in the North West. The number of adults with excess weight in the North West is also 1.8% greater than the national average of 64.8%.
  • Blackpool, Halton and St Helens were the regions with the highest proportion of excess weight in adults, with a regional high of 73.9%.

From this surveillance data, it is clear to see that the obesity crisis in the UK is showing no signs of slowing down.


Where does Food Active fit into the fight against obesity?

Food Active works at a local and regional level to try and influence policy and advocate for population-based preventative measures towards obesity. We share some of the core aims of World Obesity Day; advocacy, campaigning, research and sharing good practice. In particular, we focus on those around junk food marketing to children controls, a soft drinks tax, active transport and healthy weight in all policies. We created the GULP campaign to address unhealthy sugary drink consumption in the community, undertaking a research project into parents’ perceptions of junk food marketing to children and developed a Local Authority Declaration on Healthy Weight which approaches tackling obesity at a local level and aligns policies to promote healthy weights across all departments. Learning from successes in tobacco control, the declaration contains 14 commitments towards healthier weights including working with local food and drink providers, food provision in public buildings, considering commercial partnerships and many more. All actions which would create a healthier food environment and have a preventative effect on obesity.

The declaration continues to gain momentum with over 6 local authorities signed up, as well as adaptations in London and growing interest in other areas of the country. Robin Ireland, Director of Research at Food Active, has delivered 9 presentations about the declaration over the last 3-4 months, from Penrith in the Lake District to Taunton in Bristol. To view the declaration support pack, click here and the Blackpool evaluation of adopting the declaration here.

Everyone has a part to play in the fight against the global obesity crisis – of which local government action and campaigns can play an important part. World Obesity Day is a platform for all sectors of society to show their support for global, regional and local campaigns and approaches towards tackling obesity. To let your voice heard, make sure you sign the Thunderclap here and use the hashtag #WorldObesityDay.


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