28 Sep 2021

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) welcomes the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) launch of ‘Turning the Tide: a 10-year Healthy Weight Strategy’ today, 28 September 2021. 

Chair of BDA Obesity Specialist Group, Amanda Avery says: 

"This is a very comprehensive strategy with many positive messages and with good use of the KIND framework. We particularly welcome the recognition of those existing policies that have been implemented or those already in progress.

"The BDA supports the strategy’s inclusive, evidence based, approach and will continue to work through the OHA to help further intensify or develop new, needs led, policies.

"The strategy recognises the complexity of obesity and the move away from the idea of individual responsibility. It is important that the strategy references a ‘rights-based approach’ and the legal responsibility to reduce the obesogenic environment that particularly children are exposed to. As with the National Food Strategy, the centrality of health inequality is recognised along with the difficulties encountered by people on low incomes or experiencing financial insecurity.

"It is welcome that the strategy recommends a need to deliver sustainable weight management services across the NHS and local authorities to guarantee consistent and equitable access. This should include both virtual and traditional services, accompanied by a greater certainty of the funded support needed to deliver them.

"The strategy recommends that all health care staff should complete appropriate training in weight stigma and be able to raise the issue of weight in a sensitive manner. Furthermore, it highlights that employers have a responsibility to reduce the level of weight stigma. We will continue to work with the DHSC in identifying forward actions and the practical, positive next steps outlined by the OHA.

"It is notable that the strategy appreciates the importance of early years, from conception until age four, with a separate chapter focussing on this age-group, building on its life-course approach and emphasising the importance of weight management during pregnancy."

Julie Lanigan, Vice-chair of BDA Specialist Paediatric Group says:

"‘I co-authored the early years chapter of the strategy with Mary Fewtrell and further input from the working group. Whilst the strategy is welcomed, we would have liked to see a recommendation regarding the importance of multi-component preventative interventions for obesity in pre-school children.

"The implementation of the strategy will also demand a broader focus than physical activity as interventions alone. This is particularly important as current evidence does not support this as the only factor."

The BDA is a full member of the Obesity Health Alliance which is a coalition of over 40 organisations working together to reduce obesity by influencing Government policy. The OHA aims to prevent obesity-related ill-health by supporting evidence-based population level policies to help address the wider environmental factors that lead to excess bodyweight.