Healthy weight guidance released
Coffee culture, the increased consumption of high protein sports drinks and the use of tablets and smart phones are undermining people's efforts to maintain a healthy weight, new guidance has noted.
To combat these and other lifestyle choices, children and adults should carry out regular physical activity as simple as dancing, heavy gardening or walking briskly up a hill, the advice from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) says.
Its new guideline to help adults and children maintain a healthy weight and prevent weight gain makes a number of suggestions such as consuming water instead of drinks containing free sugars during exercise, and reducing TV viewing and other screen time.
It says that weight gain in later life should not be seen as inevitable, as it is possible to avoid gaining weight with age by being physically active and eating a diet that is mainly based on vegetables, fruits, beans and pulses, wholegrains and fish.
But it notes that even though small changes can help, no single physical activity, food or drink will maintain a healthy weight - instead a combination of these actions is needed.
The number of people classified as obese has nearly doubled over the last 20 years and continues to increase, Nice said.
The cost to society and the economy is estimated at around £16 billion but this could rise to just under £50 billion in 2050, it continued.
Obesity is directly linked to type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and arthritis, with 10% of the NHS budget used to treat diabetes and its complications alone.
The new guideline is aimed at practitioners and public health workers to help them communicate the benefits of a healthier lifestyle and encourage people to improve their physical activity and dietary habits.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at Nice, said: "Overweight and obesity is an enormous concern for the health service in England, it has a huge personal health cost to the individual and the financial impact of dealing with obesity and its associated conditions is creating a significant burden on the NHS.
"A significant amount of effort is needed to lose weight and keep it off - it is often much easier to make changes to physical activity and diet to help maintain a healthy weight or prevent weight gain.
"This guidance sets out the many things individuals can do to maintain a healthy weight that are known to be effective: walking more, limiting TV and other screen time, eating more healthily, avoiding sugary drinks and drinking less alcohol."
Professor Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford, said: "In 21st century Britain, most people are less active than recommended for good health and it is all too easy to eat more calories than we need - weight gain is unfortunately all too common.
"The recommendations emphasise the value of reducing the consumption of energy-dense foods and the amount of time spent sitting down and inactive."