One in three UK adults are obese and, in 2020, a record one million adults were admitted to hospital with obesity-related conditions as a contributing factor.
Although many people know that obesity is a risk factor for conditions like heart disease and diabetes, fewer people associate it with liver problems. In fact, obesity is a major risk factor for non-alcohol related fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and experts think this will become the leading cause of end-stage liver disease in the UK by 2030.
The causes of obesity are complex, and earlier this year, the British Liver Trust joined forces with the Obesity Health Alliance, Action for Sugar, Action on Salt and 47 other charities and researchers calling for more action to be taken to prevent and treat the condition.
We suggested measures such as a ban on TV and online adverts for unhealthy food before 9pm, the end of deals like ‘buy one get one free’ on unhealthy food, and for calories to be displayed on menus to help people make healthier choices when eating out.
In May, we were pleased to hear that one of the measures we proposed will soon be put into action. The UK Government has introduced legislation to make calorie labelling on menus and food labels mandatory for large restaurants, cafes and takeaways. This takes effect from April 2022, so we can expect to start seeing more of this information on menus next year.
Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Policy and Communications at the British Liver Trust, says: “Knowing how many calories are in different items on a menu can really help consumers make an informed choice and this is a good step forward to help tackle obesity. However, much more action needs to be taken to prevent a surge in a number of preventable health problems in the future, including cases of non-alcohol related fatty liver disease.