Health

The government has the power to tackle obesity, but not the will | Letters


Sir Michael Marmot is right to say that the government’s national food strategy won’t tackle the obesity crisis (Food plan unlikely to beat obesity crisis, leading UK inequalities expert warns, 13 June).

Obesity is a complex, multi-factorial disease that can only be truly tackled with concerted cross-government action. Given the government’s recent delay on banning multibuy junk-food deals and advertising these products before the watershed, the promise that the upcoming health disparities white paper will set out further detail on food and diet may be met with some scepticism.

In order to reduce obesity and improve health, we need comprehensive policies and access to treatments. Personal responsibility alone simply does not work: one in four children in England are now obese by the time they finish primary school. The need for the government to set out a clear cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities grows more urgent by the day.
Prof Rachel Batterham
Special adviser on obesity, Royal College of Physicians

Government by press release, hailing new or groundbreaking policies or projects, frequently obscures the real picture while revealing allied issues that have not received attention.

So, on the day when attention is turned to the new national food strategy, thanks are due to you for investigating and revealing the sad reality that many of those who ought to be benefiting from an excellent scheme providing fresh, healthy food are not getting the help due to them (Digitisation of food vouchers for UK families left them hungry and desperate, 12 June).

Ministers tell us, with some justification, that they cannot mitigate all the effects of rampant inflation that is fuelling the cost of living crisis. However, they should be able to crack recurrent administrative problems, as there is plenty of precedent to draw on. Get on with it – the people affected need help now.
Les Bright
Exeter, Devon

Those who buy cheap foodstuffs of little nutritional value need to eat large quantities to get the nutrients their bodies crave. Obese people are not greedy, they are poor. If food worth eating is too expensive, clearly wages and benefits need to rise. Poor people don’t need more self-control, they need more money.
Peggy Thomas
Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire

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