Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Priorities for reducing obesity and implementing the Obesity Strategy

Morning, Tuesday, 2nd February 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will assess key policy developments and next steps for reducing obesity in England, including implementation of the Government’s strategy.

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with officials who have already booked on to attend from DHSC; Defra; DAERA NI; and the Welsh Government.

The agenda:

  • Assessing the progress and effectiveness of obesity interventions so far
  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behaviour and eating habits
  • The Obesity Strategy and supporting consumers to make healthy choices - calorie labelling implementation, HFSS product marketing, and in-store promotions
  • Opportunities for supporting people access a healthy active lifestyle
  • Improving public health and developing a healthy local food environment
  • Priorities for public health - tackling health inequalities, supporting access to expanded weight management services, and the role of primary care
  • Next steps for taking forward the Obesity Strategy

Areas for discussion:

  • COVID-19 - assessing the impact, the policy response and resulting changes:
    • support - with the increased risk of more extreme symptoms, assessing Government help for those affected to lose excess weight during the pandemic, and its impact
    • lockdown - working from home and changes to lifestyles and eating habits, and what this has meant for people’s food choices, weight and health during the pandemic, and the implications 
  • changing the food environment:
    • implementation - and impact of restrictions affecting labelling, marketing and advertising of foods - on better enabling people to make informed, healthy food choices:
    • FOPNL - clarity and accessibility, effectively supporting health choices, balancing warnings and positive choices, and how much labelling should follow dietary advice around sugar
    • calorie labelling on food menus:
      • implementation - key issues for the out of home industry, and support that might be needed to enable new rules to be put in place
      • consumers - priority target groups, and best practice for effectively supporting both healthy decisions and the understanding of the nutritional value of a meal, as well as its calories
      • innovation - the opportunities presented for out of home meal reformulation
    • in-store HFSS promotions
      • support for retailer compliance including smaller stores
      • the impact of placement restrictions for HFSS products
      • opportunities for using volume and location-based promotions for healthy products
    • advertising restrictions - the impact and implications for marketers, advertising platforms, on encouraging reformulation to meet requirements, and on reducing rates of obesity,
    • voluntary sugar reduction targets - assessing implementation by industry, remaining barriers, and how to improve progress in the out of home sector
  • tackling inequalities and improving access to services:
    • priorities - particularly in addressing obesity in the context of the pandemic
    • tackling underlying factors
      • latest thinking on the links between deprivation and poverty
      • implications of research finding people from a BAME background are more likely to have poor health outcomes, and be more vulnerable to obesity and other related conditions
    • promoting public health and engagement
      • assessing what is needed from the new Better Health campaign
      • opportunities for enabling people to have a healthy active lifestyle
      • the ways that people can be supported to access weight management services
    • the role of primary care - assessing how services are being made more widely available on the NHS, and learning from the strong uptake of the expanded diabetes prevention programme 
  • next steps for policy:
    • joined up policy - how the obesity strategy fits in with the wider policy environment, including:
      • the National Food Strategy, which is expected to publish recommendations for government in the spring
      • development of the new National Institute for Health Protection which brings together functions for health improvement and prevention
    • next steps - options going forward in the context of the Obesity Strategy and options for further measures that may be required including around reformulation programmes, infant food calorie labelling, and health in the workplace

Relevant developments:

  • Tackling Obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives - the Government’s strategy focusing on:
    • the food environment - introducing change and helping people to make healthier decisions by:
      • Front-of-pack nutrition labelling in the UK: building on success - consulting on the traffic light system currently in place, as well as alcohol calorie labelling
      • calories and promotions - legislating for large out of home companies having to include calorie food labels, and on HFSS promotion based on volume and in-store location
      • marketing - introducing a 9pm watershed for the advertisement of HFSS products and consulting on restricting HFSS advertising online
    • preventative healthcare - and provision of NHS support to those who are overweight:
      • services - expansion of weight management and improving access given to those with obesity and at high risk, and expanding the NHS diabetes prevention programme
      • Major new campaign encourages millions to lose weight and cut COVID-19 risk - a new Better Health campaign as well as a free 12-week NHS Weight Loss Plan app
      • Workforce development - the opportunity for primary care network staff to train as healthy weight coaches, easing access to specialist support, and incentivising GP referrals 
  • COVID-19:
    • recently reported comments from Professor Dame Sally Davies attributing the UK’s number of COVID-19 fatalities in part to a failure to tackle obesity
    • the impact on eating and exercise habits, and the disproportionate risks to people who are obese and those from some ethnic minority backgrounds 
  • Surge in people checking their risk of type 2 diabetes - NHS reporting that almost 300,000 people have taken up the Healthier You Diabetes Prevention Programme since it was expanded in July
  • Third year of industry progress to reduce sugar published - PHE’s annual voluntary sugar reduction report finding average reduction across all categories at 3%, and soft drinks industry levy success 
  • Government response: mandating calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector - the consultation outcome with:
    • forthcoming legislation to make it compulsory for larger businesses
    • possible extension to smaller businesses, who are meanwhile encouraged to voluntarily calorie label
  • the National Food Strategy for England - with the second chapter in the spring which will include recommendations related to the Obesity Strategy
  • Childhood obesity - the NAO’s recent report on the progress made so far in the Government’s approach to reducing child obesity and calling for greater urgency, coordination and commitment
  • the National Institute for Health Protection - bringing together PHE and other bodies for the COVID-19 response, as well as other key functions of health improvement and prevention

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the Defra; DAERA NI; DHSC; MHCLG and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government officials in this area of public policy, together with stakeholders concerned with or affected by public health measures aimed at reducing obesity, representatives of the food and drink industry including associations, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers, health and dietary professionals, those in the education sector, local government officials, marketing companies, academics and commentators, charities and consumer groups, together with reporters from the national and trade media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Ashley McDougall

Director, Local Services Value for Money Studies, National Audit Office

Cathy Capelin

Strategic Insight Director, Kantar World Panel UK

Christina Marriott

Chief Executive, Royal Society of Public Health

Richard Sangster

Head of Obesity Policy, Department of Health and Social Care


Magnus Brooke

Director, Policy and Regulatory Affairs, ITV

Rebecca Fitzgerald

Nutrition, Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Manager, Starbucks

Professor Paul Gately

Professor of Exercise and Obesity, Leeds Beckett University and Chief Executive, MoreLife

Kate Halliwell

Head, UK Diet and Health Policy, Food and Drink Federation

Dame Sarah Storey

British Cycling Policy Advocate and Active Travel Commissioner, Sheffield City Region

Dr Dyan Sellayah

Lecturer In Cellular and Organismal Metabolism, University of Reading