The Effects of Obesity During A Pandemic: Sizing Up Our Nation's Health

Prof Dame Sally Davies, the former Chief Medical Officer for England has called for more robust policies in order to address the nation’s obesity crisis.

In a recent interview Prof Davies said that the link between hefty obesity rates, high levels of deprivation and overcrowding had cost lives during the pandemic; stating ‘The fact that we are one of the fattest nations in the developed world has undoubtedly led to more deaths that we should have had.’

The subject of the UK’s rising obesity problems has been well documented over recent decades, however with the UK being the first country in Europe to pass 50,000 deaths attributed to Covd-19; clearly more needs to be done.  With fundamental links between our active health, nutritional intake as well as other socioeconomic factors, obesity can increase your risk of developing many potentially serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

In a national health report carried out by Benenden Health, entitled ‘Mr and Mrs Average’ their results revealed some startling insights into the average person’s health and wellbeing routines. Figures showed that as a nation, on average we only notch up half of the recommended cardiovascular exercise with around 71 minutes achieved as opposed to the recommended 150 minutes per week.  Added to this were the below par results for achieving the recommended daily intake of 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day; with the average daily intake at around 3.4 servings.  These figures are supported by NHS figures released back in 2017 where it was found that only 29% of adults were achieving the full 5 portions per day.  In a recent article for HealthHubble, Dr Susie Fox outlined the health benefits associated with physical activity and the impact on various serious conditions such as depression, coronary heart disease and stroke.

An NHS publication earlier this year showed that for the year 2018/19 there were 11,117 hospital admissions directly attributable to obesity.  This had seen a 4% increase on the previous year, with even more shocking figures showing that the majority of the UK adult population were either overweight (67%of men and 60% of women) or obese (26% of men and 29% of women).  Our nation’s children sadly were not excluded from these shocking figures with 20% of year 6 children (aged 10-11 years old) classified as obese.

In July this year, the Government unveiled plans to try and tackle rates of obesity, which included a ban on ‘buy one get one free’ deals on unhealthy food in England, restrictions on placement of sugary or unhealthy foods in supermarkets and designs on disclosing calorie information on menus.

As we brace ourselves for a ‘tough winter ahead’ and worries of a further Covid wave post-Christmas, there is clearly a need for us to address our overall health.  While we can see that the average life expectancy has increased across the UK, the years of ‘healthy life’ are not increasing and in some of the most deprived areas of our population it has actually decreased.


If you are looking for inspiration on how get more active or perhaps get some tips on healthier eating, click the links to discover how. 


Interested in learning more? Click to find more news stories brought to you by HealthHubble.


Carrie Plummer - Editor & Content Manager

Active Health and Fitness News

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