Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum

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Next steps for reducing obesity in England - government strategy, active travel, healthy food environments, public messaging, and tackling inequalities

February 2020

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference focuses on key policy developments and next steps for reducing obesity in England.  

Areas for discussion include:

  • the Government’s Tackling Obesity strategy - looking at implementation and next steps for enabling healthy food choices
  • the food environment - including labelling, marketing and in-house promotions, as well as local public health initiatives and encouraging healthy lifestyles
  • tackling inequalities - including access to weight management services and the role of primary care
  • COVID-19 - the impact of the pandemic on food and lifestyle habits, assessing support measures, and implications for public health going forward

The conference is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from DCMS; DHSC; MHCLG; Defra; the National Audit Office; 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 challenge and the food and drink industry
  • 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 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:

  • Tackling Obesity and the wider policy context:
    • 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
    • coordination - 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 
  • 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 healthier 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
      • the potential impact of new restrictions on HFSS product promotions in retail settings from April 2022, and enforcement processes and sanctions
    • advertising restrictions - the impact and implications for marketers and 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 
  • 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 
  • 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

Relevant developments:

  • Restricting promotions of products high in fat, sugar and salt: enforcement - consultation on processes for checking compliance, and on potential sanctions
  • 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
    • Introducing a total online advertising restriction for products high in fat, sugar and salt­ - DHSC consulting on how this measure could be designed 
  • 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
  • National Child Measurement Programme: childhood obesity - research by University College London on what can be learned from local authorities that have a downward trend in childhood obesity
  • 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
  • the Health and Wellbeing Fund ­- £7.6m from government
    • supporting 19 projects to reduce health inequalities among new mothers and babies, including preventing obesity and diabetes
    • the fund will focus on mothers living in black, Asian or minority ethnic communities or deprived areas

Policy officials attending:

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

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

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript 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

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles