Addressing obesity crisis "a lot more complicated" than banning junk-food ads

25 July 2020, 10:38

By Seán Hickey

This health expert told LBC that there are many underlying issues to be tackled to fight the UK's obesity epidemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been vocal in his intentions to fight Britain's obesity crisis, beginning with only allowing junk food to be advertised post-watershed. Many referenced the Prime Minister's own battle with coronavirus as a core reason for acting on obesity, as it has been known that obesity is a factor in how susceptible you are to the virus.

Professor of Health Psychology at UCL Professor Robert West was speaking to Andrew Castle about the government's strategy. Andrew wanted to know if Professor West felt that the UK's attitude to food would be changed by banning junk food ads.

"That kind of thing can make a difference but as I'm sure everyone knows it's a lot more complicated than that," said Professor West.

"Obesity is an issue and it does cause a lot of deaths," but he stressed that "it's not going to be a panacea as far as addressing Covid is concerned, it's one of the factors, but the biggest factor is age."

The Professor of Health Psychology stressed that "getting people while they're young and training people into a mindset around looking after your body," is the most important intervention the government can make in tackling obesity.

The health expert argued that issues can be negated through education
The health expert argued that issues can be negated through education. Picture: PA

Andrew, who has been immensely vocal on the subject of childhood obesity absorbed the thoughts of Professor West and stated his bemusement at the country's attitude towards exercise.

Professor West didn't believe that the country are generally unfazed by obesity. "People are genuinely concerned about their weight and genuinely concerned about their fitness levels," he said.

Andrew put forward his view that the parents are to blame if children are obese and condemning this might prevent the situation worsening. "If your kid's obese at the age of four or five, it's your fault, let's condemn that," he argued.

Professor West again disagreed, arguing "the way you change it is providing parents and children with the right support and environment to encourage them."

"When you go on a path towards obesity it's not like you're stuffing your face full of sugary snacks," the Professor of Health Psychology pointed out, stating that as little as one extra biscuit can be the difference in suffering with obesity and not.