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CMO calls for action on the causes of obesity

More than half the population of Wales are overweight or obese and a third do no or very little physical activity according to Dr Tony Jewell, the Chief Medical Officer, in his final annual report published this week.
Tuesday 10 July 2012

“As rates of type 2 diabetes and hypertension rise, it is vital not only to develop better treatments, but to address the causes, including lifestyle and diet. We want people to eat well and have a healthy weight.

“As McDonald’s prepare to open its largest restaurant in the world in the heart of the Olympic Park and sponsors Coca Cola ramp up their advertising campaigns, I want us to consider the links between sports events, brands that promote fast food and drink, and our eating habits. 

“Tobacco advertising is now unthinkable in sporting events and the links between tobacco and deaths from cancer and respiratory disease are clear.  Similarly, many countries prevent alcohol advertising in sport. 

“In Wales, we are eating too much processed food, high in fat, sugar and salt and drinking too many fizzy drinks.  I believe the links between regular high level consumption of these and obesity are also clear. 

“As more people contract lifestyle related diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, the NHS has got better at treating them.  But these are largely avoidable conditions, and it is vital that we prevent as many people as possible from contracting them

“We know that people in Wales are living longer, and that more people will require support to live longer.  It is estimated that the number of people with type 2 diabetes will increase by 100,000 between 2010 and 2030, which will place increasing burdens on our NHS and social care services. 

“We need to do more to encourage people to choose healthier food and an active lifestyle. The Welsh Government’s upcoming Active Travel Bill will play a part in this, but I would like to see more radical measures to encourage people to change their eating habits. 

“Encouraging healthy eating habits is vital, such as the Welsh Government’s Appetite for Life guidance on nutritional standards, which recommends no fizzy drinks in schools. 

"In New York, the mayor has proposed a ban on super-sized fizzy drinks in restaurants, delis, cinemas, and sports venues.  This is worth considering in Wales. 

“Whilst the powers to ban fast food advertising are not devolved to Wales I believe we need to break the links between sporting achievement, alcohol, fizzy soft drinks and fast foods.  Top athletes do not succeed by consuming burgers, chips and cola, or binge drinking.  Like smoking, they do nothing to improve sporting prowess, and consumed regularly, contribute to obesity and related health problems.   

“There is much to do to tackle obesity, and stating clearly that fast food has no place in sport, sends a clear message.”



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Chief Medical Officer


Health and social care 10 July 2012 Improving health Mid Wales North Wales South East Wales South West Wales

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