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What the RCP thinks about obesity

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) is a founding member of the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA), a group of more than 40 leading organisations with expertise in tackling obesity. Our goal is to prevent obesity-related ill-health by addressing the influences that lead to excess bodyweight throughout life.

Key recommendations

The OHA believes we need urgent action in 10 areas to tackle obesity. The RCP summarises them as:

  1. protecting children by restricting marketing and taxing sugary drinks
  2. making healthy choices easier by reducing sugar, saturated fat and salt in foods, fewer displays and promotions of unhealthy foods, and traffic light labelling
  3. creating a healthy environment by making sure schools serve healthy meals and teach children how to cook, giving local authorities the freedom to tackle obesity, and making sure healthy food is available in hospital
  4. training and support for health and social care professionals, and people who are obese or overweight.

In January 2019 the RCP called for obesity to urgently be recognised as a disease by government and the broader health sector. Until this happens its prevalence is unlikely to be reduced.

Almost two thirds of adults and children in the UK are obese or overweight, and the rate continues to rise. It is estimated that 14% of premature deaths could be prevented if people were a healthy weight.

In 2007, obesity cost the NHS £2.7 billion and the UK economy £15.8 billion. This does not include the cost of diseases for which obesity is a risk factor. For example, type 2 diabetes costs the NHS £8.8 billion a year and the UK economy over £15 billion a year.