Lip up fatty: UK set to be the obesity capital of Europe

obesity-993126_1920Brits might like to think of the UK as a “cultural superpower” but it seems it is also set to become the fattest nation in Europe, according to the World Health Organisation, which blames the country’s pandemic-fuelled “Deliveroo culture” on expanding waistlines.

Almost four in ten Brits will soon be obese, according to a 220-page report, which warns modern lifestyles are being cut short due to the fact excess weight is now responsible for 1.2 million deaths in Europe each year.

Researchers say the rise of food delivery platforms, including Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats, will contribute to the UK topping the obesity league tables by 2033.

Orders from Deliveroo doubled in the first six months of the coronavirus as a result of the pandemic forcing restaurants to close.

And, according to the IPA’s TouchPoints survey, 45% more people got takeaways and 17% spent more time watching TV in Lockdown 3.0, with more than a fifth (21%) of the population turning to their local outlets as well as mainstream brands, for “comfort” food.

Health chiefs believe the trend could see the UK top the obesity table even sooner than 2033, due to takeaways often containing double the amount of calories as supermarket equivalents.

The global study shows that the UK is already one of the fattest nations, with Turkey at 32.1% and Malta at 28.9%.
Around 27.8 % of adults are currently classed as obese, this figure is expected to reach 37% by 2033.

Only the US has higher levels of obesity in the analysis of 19 countries, with 44% expected to be obese within a decade.

Head of the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases Dr Kremlin Wickramasinghe said the UK had seen one of the sharpest rises in online food deliveries.

He added: “The proportion of the population covered by these takeaways and online food deliveries is greater; it is very big in the UK compared to other countries. We saw a rapid expansion in the use and popularity of food delivery apps during the Covid-19 pandemic when people were told to stay at home but still wanted restaurant meals.

“They did very well and have quickly become part of our culture and lifestyle. However, they have the potential to increase obesity as they drive people to order more than they need, with deals such as free delivery if you spend above a certain amount.

“It is also difficult to manage the size of your portions when ordering through an app. We should now be seeking to make these apps healthier.”

The advertising and marketing industry is already engaged in a slagging match with the Government after ministers confirmed last summer that they are pushing ahead with new restrictions on advertising junk food from 2023, despite a number of concessions on the scale of the ban.

The Government first mooted proposals to banish ads for food and drink brands high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) in August 2019 with plans to move TV and online ads beyond the 9pm watershed.

The online ad ban will affect all paid-for forms of digital marketing, from ads on Facebook to paid-search results on Google, text message promotions, and paid activity on sites such as Instagram and Twitter.

However, branded advertising online and on TV will continue to be allowed as long as no HFSS products appear. Brands will also be allowed to continue to promote their products on their own websites and social media accounts.

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