Health secretary Alan Johnson has again urged employers to help combat dangerous obesity levels in the UK.
Speaking at an event organised by think-tank the Fabian Society last night, Johnson called on businesses, retailers and local government to work together to eradicate the number of children being morbidly overweight.
In England alone, nearly one in four people are now classified as obese. Nearly 20% of two to 15-year-olds are obese, with a further 14% overweight. The Foresight Report on obesity, published last year, predicted that by 2050, 60% of the UK population will be obese, costing £50bn – nearly half the NHS’s current annual budget.
Johnson said: “Tackling obesity requires a much broader partnership, not only with families, but with employers, retailers, the leisure industry, the media, local government and the voluntary sector. We need a national movement that will bring about a fundamental change in the way we live our lives.”
He said he had met with leaders from major health charities, retailers, the health profession and community action groups to discuss how a national campaign could be introduced to encourage people to choose healthier eating options. He said he had also written to some 220,000 local activists who were already promoting good health to ask them to help shape the campaign.
In January this year, Johnson announced a £372m strategy, Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives, aimed at bringing together employers, individuals and communities to support health at work and promote children’s health and food.
Among the proposals, it was suggested employers could be asked to make healthy workplaces part of their core business model, by offering staff healthy canteens, for example, or forming discounts with local gyms.