The Chief Executive of NHS England has attacked the recent ruling by European Court of Justice that obesity is a disability.
The Organisation of Economic Co-Operation and Development’s latest health report show that a quarter of British adults are obese compared with an average of 17 per cent in the rest of Europe.
Tubby Britons are the second chunkiest in Europe, statistics show, which increase risks of such conditions including type II diabetes and heart problems, placing an additional costs on health resources.
Independent research earlier this year found that obesity now costs the British taxpayer more than police, prisons and fire service combined.
But Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England, said the numbers were by no means indicative of any future pattern,
“The ghost of Christmases past reminds us that 20 years ago we didn’t have these problems as a nation. The ghost of Christmases future tells us that if we get our act together – as the NHS, as parents, as schools, the food industry – we can get back in shape.”
And he was scathing of the rulings from Luxembourg saying that obesity was a disability.
“Rather than recent daft judgements by the European court practically pretending that obesity is inevitable, in England in 2015 we’re going to start proving that it isn’t.
“That’s why the NHS is going to be funding a new national programme, proven to work, that will offer tens of thousands of people at risk of diabetes proper support to get healthier, eat better and exercise more.
“We know that for people at risk, losing just 5-7% of your weight can cut your chance of diabetes by nearly 60%. If this was a pill we’d be popping it – instead its a well designed programme of exercise, eating well and making smart health choices, and we’re going to start making it available free on the NHS.”
The plan is for a strategy starting next month with Public Health England and Diabetes UK working alongside local politicians to halt the upward trajectory in the number of sufferers.
But they admit that prevention programmes are likely to reap rewards, should they be successful, in the long term. But the health organisation says that diabetes prevention could begin to show returns in as little as three months.
The news comes as the Institute of Economic Affairs have released their own figures showing that 70 per cent of British adults say it should be up to the individual to make their own lifestyle choices rather than be controlled over purchasing and consumption choices by ‘sin taxes’.
The poll by ComRes shows that 51 per cent of Britons believe indirect taxes – those taken for example, when a product is purchased – are too high and 78 per cent of people believe they hit the poorest the hardest.
It is these ‘nudging’ policies which politicians and health organisations have been pushing for along with other authoritarian policies such as banning smoking inside non residential buildings.
And Simon Stevens may well wish to take note of the findings which show that a majority of Britons believe the government should not offer financial incentives to people who are trying to lose weight (61%), stop smoking (60%) or stop drinking excessively (62%).
Commenting on the poll, Mark Littlewood, Director General at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:
Mark Littlewood, Director General at the IEA said the results should be “a wake up call” for policy makers.
“It is clear that the majority of the British public think the nanny state has gone too far and want to be left alone to live their lives as they see fit. Interestingly, UKIP voters clearly favour personal freedoms and lower sin taxes to the greatest extent, which should provide food for thought for the traditional Westminster parties. This is a clear sign that the government needs to row back on its constant interventions into people’s lives”.