It’s easy to blame individuals, but real change can only happen if industry and the government take responsibility, says Colette Marshall of Diabetes UK. Plus a letter from Michael Fuller
Re your report on the cost of people being overweight in the UK, (Cost of people being overweight in UK now £98bn, study finds, 4 December), while it is important that we do not shy away from the worrying health impact of being overweight and obese in the UK, it’s vital that we focus on where the real power to make change actually lies – with the government and with industry.
It’s easy to point to individuals, and to “personal choice”, but the fact is that our environment has changed. At all levels of society, we are bombarded with advertising and the promotion of food that is high in fat, salt and sugar. Meanwhile, the government has put the brakes on taking any action to tackle this very real and urgent public health issue.
It is easy to proclaim that our self-discipline has simply vanished, but the evidence shows that people on low incomes often don’t have access to healthy, affordable food, space to exercise or support with reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.
It’s time that the focus shifted towards where the greatest difference to our nation’s health can be made – at those parts of industry that profit from making products which damage our health; and at the government, whose inaction on these issues allows these irresponsible industry practices to endure and our health to suffer as a result.
Chief executive, Diabetes UK
Apparently, obesity is costing the NHS up to £19bn. But it does have revenue from the confectionery dispensing machines, like the one I stared at in St Albans City hospital while waiting for a CT scan, to offset that cost.