Weighing in: dealing with the challenge of obesity

Document type
Policy Exchange
Date of publication
30 November 2008
Health Services
Social welfare
Material type

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The prevalence of obesity in the UK has trebled since the 1980s. This research note outlines the direct cost of obesity to the NHS before briefly examining ten schemes to reduce obesity that cover both healthy eating and physical activity.  The case studies are broadly divided into four categories: community schemes, active travel initiatives, health in the workplace, and lifestyle incentives.  The research team found that there was very little evidence of long term impact and cost effectiveness.  They therefore make four sets of recommendations:

  • Set up bodies to evaluate schemes and provide guidance.
  • Stop public health funds being raided and empower communities to tackle obesity.
  • Provide appropriate financial incentives for employers.
  • Encourage early intervention.