‘Healthy towns’ announced in government crackdown on obesity

Nine areas of the UK have been given the go-ahead to become “healthy towns” under ambitious public health plans drawn up by the government to help tackle the growing problem of obesity.

Dudley, Halifax Calderdale, Sheffield, Tower Hamlets, Thetford, Middlesbrough, Manchester, Tewkesbury and Portsmouth are being given £30m between them to spend on health promotion initiatives as part of the government’s Change4Life campaign, which was formally launched last month.

Projects include a loyalty scheme in Manchester to reward people with free activities or healthy food when they exercise, a ‘cycle recycle’ project in Thetford to encourage people to cycle, an urban garden in Tewkesbury, and an award scheme for healthy food in fast-food outlets, cafes, restaurants and shops in Tower Hamlets.

The Change4Life campaign is aiming to reduce the number of people who are obese or overweight and prevent the problem escalating to a point where it is likely to cost the NHS an estimated £50bn by 2050.

More than 12,400 organisations, charities and employers have already signed up, including Tesco, Asda, PepsiCo, Kellogg’s and ITV.

Tesco, for example, will be running themed Change4Life promotional activity in-store and on healthier products, as will Asda.

ITV will run a campaign in the New Year to encourage viewers to pledge to lose weight, eat more healthily and take more exercise, and Kellogg’s will be expanding its Breakfast Clubs scheme for children living in deprived areas.

Health secretary Alan Johnson said: “Obesity is the biggest public health challenge the country faces. If we don’t take action now we will condemn our children to reduced life expectancy.

“That’s why we are aiming to create a lifestyle revolution that will help families to eat well, move more and live longer. We can’t start a revolution on our own – we need everyone from grassroots community clubs to multinational companies to join us,” he added.

Click here for more information on the campaign.

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