Britain is "dramatically" fatter than 40 years ago, government advisor says

27 July 2020, 18:59 | Updated: 28 July 2020, 11:14

By Seán Hickey

The government's advisor on obesity says that the UK's rate of obesity has "gone up dramatically" since 1980.

Susan Jebb is Professor of Diet and Population Health at the University of Oxford and has advised the Goverment on obesity. She was speaking to Tom Swarbrick about the importance of losing weight, and how it can reduce the risk of coronavirus.

She told Tom that "if people were to lose a few pounds they can reduce their risk," confirming that "what we know from other metabolic diseases is quite small weight losses bring quite big metabolic benefits," and scientists are hopeful that Covid-19 falls into the same bracket.

"It will certainly reduce your risk of diabetes, cancer and we hope it will reduce the risk of Covid complications," Professor Jebb said.

Tom wondered if it is "the case that the UK has gotten fatter over the years," to which the Government advisor insisted there is no question that we have.

"In 1980 only 7% of the population was classified as living with obesity and now it's over 25%, so it's gone up dramatically overtime."

25% of the UK's population is obese, according to Professor Jebb
25% of the UK's population is obese, according to Professor Jebb. Picture: PA

Professor Jebb went on to point out the government's obesity policy as covering a host of issues that come to light in fighting obesity, telling Tom that "there's also a raft of policies to help reduce the risk of putting on weight in the first place."

The initial policy of banning junk food advertising was a crucial first step in the Government's obesity strategy according to the health expert. "Reducing the promotion of unhealthy food is really really important," she said.

Understanding why people become obese is an important factor in educating the UK on obesity Professor Jebb noted. She told Tom that "we really need to understand that eating is deeply personal and we all do it for different kinds of reasons, people don't intentionally over eat," and the public must be sensitive to this.

Professor Jebb added that she has been warmed by the reaction to the plan so far, telling Tom that she is "pleased to hear this very supportive tone" coming from the media and from the general public.