The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) is a coalition of 50 health organisations including the British Liver Trust, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK the British Medical Association and medical royal colleges and other health charities. The published statement outlines the known evidence base for the relationship between overweight and obesity and health inequalities, and the recommendations supported by the OHA to address health inequalities through action to reduce the prevalence of obesity.
- Excess weight leads to a large number of diseases that cause significant mortality and morbidity, including type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), liver disease, many types of cancer, musculoskeletal conditions and poor mental health. Moderate to extreme obesity can shorten life expectancy by 3-10 years.
- Overweight and obesity prevalence is high across the UK population, but there are stark inequalities across ages, geographical areas, genders, ethnic groups and for those with both mental and physical disabilities. These inequalities are growing, as rates of children with obesity are increasing significantly faster in communities with high deprivation levels compared to those with low deprivation levels.
- To address these eminently avoidable health inequalities a comprehensive, evidence-based approach is needed that prioritises:
- Reformulation of unhealthy food and drink products, which will have a disproportionately beneficial impact on the health of people on lower incomes.
- Restrictions on marketing of unhealthy food and drink products, which are currently disproportionately directed at those on lower income, as well as appropriate monitoring and enforcement of these policies.
- Further evidence-based measures that target the key drivers of excess weight should be taken forward and well-funded, including early years interventions and improved access to weight management services.