Given the range and complexity of influencing factors, preventing obesity is not straightforward. The 2007 ‘Tackling Obesities: Future Choices Project’ report highlighted that a ‘bold whole system approach is critical’ to tackle unhealthy diets and the built environment, and to foster a change in cultural attitudes around weight. 3

Guidance from the Chief Medical Officer makes the following recommendations about physical activity in children aged 5-18 to maximise health benefits (including obesity prevention). 4

  1. All children and young people should engage in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for at least 60 minutes and up to several hours every day.
  2. Vigorous intensity activities, including those that strengthen muscle and bone, should be incorporated at least three days a week.
  3. All children and young people should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods.

In terms of diet, the ‘Eatwell Guide’ provides practical recommendations aimed at the public (Figure 64), including the following.

  1. Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day.
  2. Base meals on starchy carbohydrates (which are wholegrain where possible)
  3. include some dairy or dairy alternatives (that are lower-fat and lower-sugar where possible.)
  4. Eat beans/pulses/fish/eggs/meat as sources of protein and aim for two portions of fish every week (one of which should be oily).
  5. Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat foods high in fat, salt and sugar less often and in small amounts.
  6. Drink plenty of fluids (aim for six to eight glasses a day).

Figure 64: Eatwell Guide

Source: Public Health England (PHE) in association with the Welsh Government, Food Standards Scotland and the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland.

 

References

  1. “Tackling Obesities: future choices – project report,” Foresight, 2007.
  2. “UK physical activity guidelines,” Department of Health, 2011.
  3. “Tackling Obesities: future choices – project report,” Foresight, 2007.
  4. “UK physical activity guidelines,” Department of Health, 2011.