photo: Nick Whitcombe
Any endorsement of health and fitness on a national scale is positive, and if this is what gets our foot in the door to begin a wider conversation around bettering the nation’s health and truly protecting our NHS then it is certainly a step in the right direction.
Government has allocated £100m to tackle obesity with a plan that, according to the prime minister, will aid 700,000 people. This represents just 1 per cent of the population, when 50 per cent are overweight and 30 per cent are obese.
The NHS is haemorrhaging £9bn a year managing obesity and Type 2 diabetes, with a further cost to wider society of £30bn per year. So it seems underwhelming that the government’s plan is to spend £100 million to tackle a £30bn problem. Aiding 1 per cent when more than 50 per cent need support.
Encouraging additional activity is a good move for mental health, although it will be near impossible to assess the success of the scheme in terms of increased steps, as there is no baseline to measure against.
An hour’s extra walking per day equates to all of 250 kcals on average, this will do very little to tackle the obesity crisis. We’re essentially hoping to heal a gunshot wound with a plaster and a lollipop.
What is needed is a Work Out to Help Out scheme, to subsidise gym memberships for three months by 50 per cent. We are campaigning for £500m and have set a conservative goal of a 50 per cent increase in service users during this time. Putting this into perspective, the hospitality industry’s Eat Out to Help Out resulted in a 214 per cent increase in service users. As our sector already saves the country about £24bn a year, Work Out to Help Out could save an additional £3bn in 12 weeks. Therefore making a profit of £2.5bn.
This could protect our NHS, reduce public spending, increase the quality of national health, all of which is achievable if government opens communication channels with our sector when planning the scheme.
It seems underwhelming that the government’s plan is to spend £100 million to tackle a £30bn problem