The UK has failed to tackle obesity for 30 years because of nanny statism fears, according to a report


Every UK authority of the final 30 years has did not address the weight problems disaster due to fears of”nanny figures”, a report claims, as it emerged the condition is now costing the NHS £6.5bn a year.

According to the Institute for Government (IFG), the Labor and Conservative governments have shown a similar reluctance to engage too closely with what is widely seen as a minefield.

Their production since 1992 of 14 strategies and 689 policies to tackle obesity, as well as the creation and subsequent dissolution of 14 different bodies to supervise progress, has now no longer halted a fashion because of this that the United Kingdom now has the 1/3 maximum weight problems price in Europe, in the back of Malta and Turkey.

The think tank’s report concluded that “‘fear of nanny statism'” means that “politicians fear unduly interfering with people’s choices, particularly their dietary habits”.

Although ministers have done much to curb smoking, the report says, they have often shied away from tackling obesity because “food is more complex … it is an essential basic need and a social pleasure that carries deep cultural significance”.

Scientists can’t agree on whether some foods are as addictive as tobacco and alcohol. Consequently, the issue is a minefield for many politicians, the report said.

“Interviewees told us that politicians worry that ‘what people eat’ will make them unpopular – a fear strongly reinforced by some sections of the media,” it said.

This, and the belief that people should be free to eat what they want, “[s]help to explain why ministers from both [Labour and Conservative] parties have felt much more comfortable emphasizing personal responsibility than systemic intervention”.

Dr. Dolly Thies, an weight problems coverage professional at Cambridge University, stated governments had didn’t familiarize themselves with weight problems during the last 31 years. Some governments have carried out a great deal extra than others.

But the IfG is proper that a widespread preference to keep away from accusations of nanny statistics, a loss of understanding of the problem, and a lack of political priorities have all contributed to this chronic policy failure,” she said.

Kathryn Jenner, director of the Obesity Health Alliance, said the government was out of step with the public, who want to take steps to force food companies to reduce the amount of fat, salt, and sugar in their products.

“The public wants action,” said Jenner. “They overwhelmingly support the Government in tackling the flood of junk food advertising that bombards us every day, as well as forcing the food and drink industry to cut sugar, salt, and calories from their products.

The report is the first in a series the think tank is publishing on what it says are “persistent policy problems that successive governments have failed to address”.

The IFG added that although Rishi Sunak’s government has said it wants to reduce obesity, it has “no serious plans to achieve that goal”. Sunac has delayed measures initially proposed by Boris Johnson, such as a ban on advertising junk food containing fat, salt, or sugar on TV before 9 pm.

The report says a general “failure to get to grips with the problem” could lead To decrease productivity, better taxes, wider fitness inequalities, and elevated strain on the NHS.

The IFG is calling on ministers to develop a detailed long-term obesity strategy based on its roadmap to deliver on commitments to Net Zero.

It recommended the creation of a new Food and Health Policy Unit, jointly staffed by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs to make certain progress.

Sophie Metcalfe, the IFG researcher, and co-author of the report said: “High obesity will lock the UK into rising morbidity in the future and the government has no plan to tackle it. It desires to construct a guide for a long-time period method that avoids telling people ‘what to eat but instead focuses on shared responsibility and a vision for healthier diets and more productive lives.

A DHSC spokesperson said: “We are taking strong action to help people live healthier lives, including introducing restrictions on where unhealthy food is placed in supermarkets, calorie labeling on menus, and working closely with industry to make it easier for people to eat healthier the choice.

“Trials of new obesity treatments and technologies are being supported by £20m of government funding, and we will ban TV adverts for fatty, salty, or sugary foods and drinks before 9 pm, as well as introducing restrictions on online paid advertising.

About the author

Marta Lopez

Add Comment

By Marta Lopez

Get in touch

Content and images available on this website is supplied by contributors. As such we do not hold or accept liability for the content, views or references used. For any complaints please contact Use of this website signifies your agreement to our terms of use. We do our best to ensure that all information on the Website is accurate. If you find any inaccurate information on the Website please us know by sending an email to and we will correct it, where we agree, as soon as practicable. We do not accept liability for any user-generated or user submitted content – if there are any copyright violations please notify us at – any media used will be removed providing proof of content ownership can be provided. For any DMCA requests under the digital millennium copyright act
Please contact: with the subject DMCA Request.