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Public healthJul 26, 2021

Public health initiative aims to give people the tools to lose weight and increase activity

Four adults in 10 in England say they have put on weight since the first Covid-19 lockdown was implemented in March 2020, according to the results of a survey conducted for Public Health England (PHE).

On average, the adults whose weight rose gained about half a stone (4.1kg), with one in five (21 per cent) reporting putting on a stone or more. In those aged from 35 to 65 years, the average weight gained rose to more than 10lbs (4.6kg).

In response to findings of this and other surveys, PHE launched the latest ‘Better Health’ campaign today (26 July) in a bid to encourage adults to shed excess weight, eat more healthily and become more active in the coming months. 


Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Stone me: respondents aged 35-65 years had put on more than 10lbs (4.6kg), on average

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The campaign offers free, evidence-based support and guidance to those wanting to attain a healthier weight. It promotes the use of NHS-endorsed apps, such as the updated NHS Weight Loss Plan app.

Public Health England will shortly publish research findings revealing that app users who followed a 12-week NHS Weight Loss Plan programme lost almost a stone (5.8kg)on average.  

Most of the adults in the PHE survey (89 per cent) who had gained weight since March 2020 said it was important for them to develop healthier habits this summer, with nearly half (49 per cent) saying they would like to embrace a healthier diet. Half (53 per cent) said they optimistic about making the desired changes, with a majority (57 per cent) indicating that they would welcome more advice on eating more healthily, ideas for doing so on a budget and ideas for exercise routines.

As we build back better in the months ahead, we want to make it easier for people to adopt a healthier lifestyle that works for them [Jo Churchill, public health minister]

Public health minister Jo Churchill said: ‘The pandemic has been hugely challenging for everyone and it has upended our daily routines. As we build back better in the months ahead, we want to make it easier for people to adopt a healthier lifestyle that works for them.’

‘Our new Office for Health Promotion [to be launched this autumn] is going to keep building on the success of this campaign, helping people to make lifestyle choices that improves both their mental and physical health.’

The Better Health webpage (nhs.uk/BetterHealth) provides tools (see examples below) to help people improve their health

Weight Loss

  • NHS Weight Loss Plan App
  • BMI Calculator
  • NHS Easy Meals App
  • NHS Food Scanner App

Get more active

  • NHS Couch to 5k
  • NHS Active 10 App

Reduce alcohol intake:

  • NHS Drink Free Days App

All the above apps are free and can be downloaded via the App Store or Google Play. The NHS Weight Loss Plan is a free app that can be found on the Better Health website. It is designed to help adults lose weight safely, and keep it off.

PHE campaign partners

Weight management: Slimming World, MAN v FAT, GetSlim, Second Nature, WW – Weight Watchers Reimagined and EFL Fit Fans

Physical activity partners: Our Parks, Sport England, Instructor Live, Activity Alliance, Everyone Active, Better Leisure Centres, PureGym and Her Spirit

Opinium conducted an online survey for PHE with a nationally representative sample of 5,000 adults in England from 2-8 July.

Author: Ian A McMillan
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