Retailers urged to crack down on early Easter egg sales to tackle obesity

Royal Society of Public Health | March 2019 | Retailers urged to crack down on early Easter egg sales to tackle obesity

Research commissioned by the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) has revealed that even thought there is still three weeks to go until Easter, 50 % of the UK public have bought and consumed at least one Easter-related chocolate, treat or cake, while almost a quarter (23%) have already consumed 1 or more full-sized Easter egg this year. 


RSPH’s poll found that:

  • Over three-quarters (77%) of people think supermarkets start selling Easter eggs and other Easter related treats too early
  • Over half (57%) of parents agree that their child has been tempted by Easter themed treats displayed near checkouts
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of people agree that holidays or special occasions are used too much to advertise and sell unhealthy food

Latest figures suggest that around 1 in 4 UK adults (27%) are obese, the highest rates in Western Europe. Most concerning is the prevalence of childhood obesity – among year 6 pupils, over 20% are obese and as many as 4.2% are now ‘severely obese’ (the highest rate ever).  RSPH believes that more must be done to reverse these trends, and is urging retailers to do more to encourage healthy choices and to stop pushing unhealthy products (Source: RSPH).

RSPH Retailers urged to crack down on early Easter egg sales to tackle obesity

In the news:

BBC News Easter eggs ‘being pushed too early in shops’

Funding for 13 councils to develop local solutions to childhood obesity

Department of Health and Social Care| January 2019 | Funding for councils to develop local solutions to childhood obesity

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced that 13 local authorities will receive funding and support to develop innovative plans to reduce childhood obesity that can be shared across the country. 


The work is part of the government’s Trailblazer programme, in partnership with the Local Government Association (LGA) supported by Public Health England. The programme will focus on inequalities and work closely with local authorities to:

  • test the limits of existing powers through innovative and determined action to tackle childhood obesity
  • share learning and best practice to encourage wider local action
  • develop solutions to local obstacles
  • consider further actions that government can take to support local action and achieve large-scale changes

The 3-year programme forms part of the second chapter of the government’s childhood obesity plan, launched in the summer.

This included the aim to halve childhood obesity and significantly reduce the gap in obesity between children from the most and least deprived areas by 2030. One in 3 children leaves primary school overweight or obese and children from the most deprived areas are more than twice as likely to be obese (Source: Department of Health and Social Care).

Full story from Department of Health and Social Care 

Hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity in the UK

New report says the Government has failed to recognise and respond to the issues of hunger, malnutrition and obesity in the UK and should appoint a minister to ensure cross-departmental action. | Environmental Audit Committee

A new report finds that food insecurity in the UK, defined as “limited access to food … due to lack of money or other resources”, is significant and growing. Levels are among the worst in Europe, especially for children, with 19% of under 15s living with an adult who is moderately or severely food insecure.

knife-and-fork-2754149_1920 The Committee heard how food insecurity can lead to both malnutrition and obesity, with people forced to rely on the very cheapest foods, which are often nutrient-poor but calorie-rich. The Government’s obesity strategy makes no mention of food insecurity and only the Department for International Development mentions hunger in its Single Departmental Plan.

Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Mary Creagh MP, said “Instead of seeing hunger as an issue abroad, the Government’s New Year resolution should be one of taking urgent action at home to tackle hunger and malnutrition. This can only be addressed by setting clear UK-wide targets and by appointing a Minister for Hunger to deliver them.” 

See also:

Health Survey for England 2017

NHS Digital | December 2018 | Health Survey for England 2017: Summary of key findings 

The majority of adults (64%) in England in 2017 were overweight or obese reports the UK  Health Survey for England 2017. It finds that males were more likely to be overweight (but not obese) compared to females, but females were more likely to be obese.

health survey
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There was an association between the weight of the parents and children. Offspring of obese mothers were 28 per cent more likely to be obese, almost a quarter (24 per cent) of children of obese fathers were obese.

Current cigarette smoking among adults has steadily declined between 1993 and 2017 (from 27% to 17%). Adults that have never regularly smoked cigarettes increased from 46% to 57% over the same period. 6% of all adults were current users of e-cigarettes.  15% of current cigarette smokers were using ecigarettes.  Although 38% of current smokers had never used an e-cigarette.

Fewer than a third (29 per cent) of adults ate the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables in 2017; with less men than women eating the recommended amount.

Average alcohol intake was 11.8 units a week- with men on average consuming more alcohol than women.  (Source: NHS Digital)

Read the full report from NHS Digital 

In the news:

BBC News Most adults living unhealthy lifestyles

New plan announced by NHS Chief to tackle Type 2 diabetes epidemic

NHS England | November 2018 |Very low calorie diets part of NHS action to tackle growing obesity and Type 2 diabetes epidemic

NHS Chief executive Simon Stevens has announced that people recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes will be trialled as part of a new NHS long term plan, which will increase the focus on prevention as well as treatment.


As well as improving the health of patients,this will also save the NHS money that can be reinvested in frontline care. Currently, the health service in England spends around 10% of its budget on treating diabetes.

The scaling up of the NHS DPP scheme, the first in the world to become available country-wide, comes after it proved even more successful than planned with patients losing on average a kilogram more than expected.

The nine month programme helps people to:

  • achieve a healthy weight
  • improve overall nutrition
  • increase levels of physical activity

Online versions of the DPP, which involve wearable technologies and apps to help those at risk of Type 2 Diabetes, will also be provided for patients who find it difficult to attend sessions because of work or family commitments (Source: NHS England).

Full news release available from NHS England 

In the news:

BBC News Type 2 diabetes: NHS to offer 800-calorie diet treatment

ITV News Liquid diet to be prescribed to diabetes patients

Evening Standard Liquid diet for type 2 diabetes patients after trial puts condition into remission

Understanding the causal influence of higher BMI on depression

Tyrell, J. et al | 2018|Using genetics to understand the causal influence of higher BMI on depression |International Journal of Epidemiology|  dyy223|

UK and Australian researchers used data from the UK Biobank, as part of a randomization study involving 48 791 individuals with depression and 291 995 controls participants aged between 37 and 73 recruited in 2006-10. The team looked at a number of genetic variants associated with a high BM, that are also linked with a higher risk factor for diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. In conjunction they looked at a further 14 genetic variants associated with a high percentage of body fat but also with a lower risk of such health problems.


The team then looked at participants’ hospital data and responses given by participants to a number of questionnaires – some of which included  self-reports of seeing a GP or psychiatrist for anxiety or depression. From this the team spotted about 49,000 participants whom they were confident had depression.

The team found participants with a higher BMI were more likely to develop depression.



Depression is more common in obese than non-obese individuals, especially in women, but the causal relationship between obesity and depression is complex and uncertain. Previous studies have used genetic variants associated with BMI to provide evidence that higher body mass index (BMI) causes depression, but have not tested whether this relationship is driven by the metabolic consequences of BMI nor for differences between men and women.


We performed a Mendelian randomization study using 48 791 individuals with depression and 291 995 controls in the UK Biobank, to test for causal effects of higher BMI on depression (defined using self-report and Hospital Episode data). We used two genetic instruments, both representing higher BMI, but one with and one without its adverse metabolic consequences, in an attempt to ‘uncouple’ the psychological component of obesity from the metabolic consequences. We further tested causal relationships in men and women separately, and using subsets of BMI variants from known physiological pathways.


Higher BMI was strongly associated with higher odds of depression, especially in women. Mendelian randomization provided evidence that higher BMI partly causes depression. Using a 73-variant BMI genetic risk score, a genetically determined one standard deviation (1 SD) higher BMI (4.9 kg/m2) was associated with higher odds of depression in all individuals and women only. Meta-analysis with 45 591 depression cases and 97 647 controls from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) strengthened the statistical confidence of the findings in all individuals. Similar effect size estimates were obtained using different Mendelian randomization methods, although not all reached P  more than 0.05. Using a metabolically favourable adiposity genetic risk score, and meta-analysing data from the UK biobank and PGC, a genetically determined 1 SD higher BMI (4.9 kg/m2) was associated with higher odds of depression in all individuals, but with weaker statistical confidence.


Higher BMI, with and without its adverse metabolic consequences, is likely to have a causal role in determining the likelihood of an individual developing depression.

Read the full article in The International Journal of Epidemiology 

In the news:

Science Daily ‘Strongest evidence yet’ that being obese causes depression

Guardian Genetic link between obesity and depression uncovered, say scientists

Promoting healthy weight in children, young people and families

A resource to support local authorities, NHS commissioners and providers, voluntary and community sector organisations to take action to reduce obesity | Public Health England


This resource is made up of briefings and practice examples to promote healthy weight for children, young people and families as part of a whole systems approach.

It supports:

  • local authorities
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • other NHS partners and non-government agencies

The briefing papers help to:

  • make the case for taking action to reduce childhood obesity
  • give examples of actions that can be taken
  • provide key documents that form the evidence base and other useful resources

Practice examples are also given to illustrate what local areas are doing.

The briefings have been developed so they can be used as standalone documents and downloaded separately, or as part of the wider resource.

Full documents: