Skip to main content

Government plans to tackle obesity in England

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Obesity, Public Health

How we're tackling obesity in England

*Updated 2 February 2024*

Obesity costs the NHS around £6.5 billion a year and is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer.

Over one in four (26%) adults and 23.4% of children aged 10-11 years in England are living with obesity, placing huge pressure on the health and care system.

We’re taking action to help people make healthier choices to tackle obesity, reduce pressure on the NHS and boost the economy.

Here’s everything you need to know:

What are you doing to tackle obesity?

We are taking strong action to encourage healthier food choices and to tackle obesity, including:

  • Introducing the Soft Drinks Industry Levy which has removed the equivalent of over 45,000 tonnes of sugar from soft drinks since its introduction
  • Introduction of calorie labelling to empower people to make informed choices
  • Legislation to restrict the placement of foods high in fat, sugar or salt in supermarkets to reduce the likelihood of impulse purchases
  • Helping children and young people have an active start to life, with over £600 million funding for the PE and Sport Premium over the next two academic years and £22 million for the School Games Organisers network.

What about new weight loss drugs?

  • New weight loss drugs will provide an effective tool to help support some people living with obesity to lose excess weight.
  • We are committed to the safe introduction of new weight loss drugs into the NHS and are actively exploring ways to increase access to more people who meet the relevant eligibility criteria.

What are your plans for the future?

  • We remain committed to:
    • banning the advertisement of less healthy products on television and on-demand programmes before the watershed (from 9pm to 5.30am) and online 24/7 from October 2025. This will mean fewer people, especially children, will view adverts for less healthy food and drink. Evidence shows exposure to adverts for unhealthy foods can affect when people eat and what they eat, leading to excess calorie consumption over time.
    • banning multibuy promotions like Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) on less healthy food from 2025.
  • Our Major Conditions Strategy set out our approach to addressing the principal lifestyle drivers of ill-health and disease, such as diet and obesity.
  • We also want to work closely with industry to make the healthy choice an easier choice.

Have the measures been successful so far?

  • We have seen the average sugar content of retailer and manufacturer branded drinks subject to the Soft Drinks Industry Levy decreasing by 46% between 2015 and 2020.
  • The sugar reduction programme has seen a 14.9% reduction of sugar in retailer and manufacturer branded breakfast cereals and 13.5% reduction in yogurts and fromage frais.
  • Over the next 25 years, restrictions on the placement of less healthy food in shops and online are expected to bring health benefits of over £57 billion and provide NHS savings of over £4 billion.
  • Calorie labelling is expected to bring health benefits of £4.6 billion and provide NHS savings of £430 million over 25 years.

Sharing and comments

Share this page