The campaign highlights six benefits of achieving and maintaining a heathy weight—including decreased risk of becoming severely ill or being hospitalised with COVID-19

Overweight

A look inside the body is the latest attempt by the DHSC to alert people to the health risks of being overweight and obese. In its ‘full body X-ray’ animation, six benefits of achieving and maintaining a heathy weight are highlighted, including reduced risk of common cancers (colon, liver, pancreas, kidney), lower risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, less back and joint pain, and decreased risk of becoming severely ill or being hospitalised with COVID-19.

Well-known TV doctor, Dr Hilary Jones, who hosts the animation, said: ‘These six benefits highlight the impact of carrying excess weight, and the range of benefits that can be achieved by reducing your weight. Small changes every day can help you lose weight and feel healthier.’

In the UK, it’s estimated that around two in three adults are overweight or obese and, therefore, at greater risk of developing diseases associated with carrying too much weight. According to the Royal Society for Public Health, obesity costs the NHS £4.2 billion a year; without urgent action, this figure will rise to £10 billion a year by 2050.

A New Year’s resolution—less you, less risk 

Both Maggie Throup, Public Health Minister, and Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Joint Lead for the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, have enthused about how January and the New Year is a great time for making resolutions and healthy changes.

Regarding the campaign, Maggie Throup said: ‘I hope that people can use this as a kick-start moment to be more active and eat healthier.’

Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy said: ‘The Better Health campaign outlines the health benefits of losing weight, and gives people the tools and resources to make small changes to improve their health.’

According to the DHSC, losing just 5% of your body weight can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, and can make all the difference in preventing treatable heart conditions.

Campaign launch given large support 

The Better Health campaign is supported by Diabetes UK, the British Liver Trust, and Kidney Research UK.

‘Research shows living with obesity is the single greatest risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes,’ said Dan Howarth, Head of Care at Diabetes UK, ‘accounting for about 80–85% of your risk of developing the condition.’

Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Policy at the British Liver Trust, said: ‘Urgent action to tackle [obesity] is required to reduce the prevalence of fatty liver disease.’ She warned that experts predict that, by 2030, non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease will become the leading cause of liver disease in the UK. ‘Many people are unaware that excess weight is a significant risk factor in this,’ she added.

Being overweight or obese significantly increases the risk of a person developing type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, both of which can damage the kidneys. Dr Aisling McMahon, Executive Director of Research, Innovation, and Policy at Kidney Research UK, said: ‘Research we funded in partnership with the Medical Research Council has also shown that obesity itself increases the risk of developing kidney disease.’

A range of free, NHS-endorsed apps, resources, and online tools—such as the NHS Weight Loss Plan, Couch to 5K, and Active 10—are available with Better Health to help people introduce simple changes into their everyday life with the goal of eating better and getting active.

Better Health is working in partnership with a number of weight management and physical activity partners, who are providing both free and discounted offers.

This article originally appeared on Medscape, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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