A former Conservative minister urged the government to “tell people they shouldn’t eat that much” in an effort to prevent them from becoming “grossly overweight.”
Lord Robathan said that the current obesity strategy for England is not working and that more emphasis needs to be placed on personal responsibility.
It shouldn’t be “socially acceptable” to be very overweight, he added.
But the government said it was important not to create more anxiety for people with eating disorders.
According to official data, 28% of adults in England are obese, which means that fat accounts for over 30% of body weight, almost doubling the rate from 15% since 1993.
And during the pandemic, more than 40% of adults in England gained weight, according to a Public Health England survey.
But the charity that Beat values up 1.25 million adults in the UK they have an eating disorder, such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder.
- Pandemic weight gain averages half a kilo – survey
- Living with obesity: programmed to store fat
- Tax sugar and salt and prescribe vegetables, the report said
The government strategy against obesity for England, published last year, says that weight loss “is not just about an individual’s effort” and calls for healthy food options and better nutritional advice to be made more widely available.
Speaking to the House of Lords, Lord Robathan, a former Conservative MP, replied: “I’m glad the government recognizes the huge problem this is and the dangers of being overweight, especially during Covid. But … the strategy, how as good as it could be, it doesn’t actually work.
“Isn’t it time to go back to the situation I was when I was young, when it was not socially acceptable to be severely overweight and push for individual responsibility?
“Government policy should tell people not to eat that much.”
Health Minister Lord Kamall replied: “One of the things we must always be careful of with any strategy or program is the unwanted consequences.”
He added that the government is also focusing on “not creating more problems and worries and anxieties for those suffering from eating disorders.”
Lord Kamall said health officials have looked into the obesity policy in detail and that “more details will be made available” at a later date.
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