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Researches have indicated that there has been an unsuccessful implementation of government obesity policies in the UK because they are designed to fail.

Obesity is a challenge in the UK because of flawed policies

Over the last three decades, the England government’s obesity policies have failed mostly due to issues with implementation and failure to learn from past failures and successes. Equally the overdependence on persuading people to change behavior instead of addressing issues with the unhealthy environment has contributed to the failure of such policies. These are findings by a research team at the University of Cambridge thorough NIHR School for Public Health Research funding.

According to researchers, their findings could offer insight as to why, after almost three-decade of obesity policies in England, the prevalence in the country has not dropped and there are still significant inequalities. In May last year, an NHS Digital report indicated that 60% of women and 67% of men are obese or overweight including 29% of women and 26% of men suffering from clinical obesity. Interestingly around 25% of children between 2 and 15 years are either obese or overweight with the disparities between the most and least deprived children widening.

Government policies designed to fail in implementation

The study published in The Milbank Quarterly indicated that successive governments have in the past tried to address the obesity issue. From 1992 to 2020 there have been over 14 obesity strategies from governments, according to Martin White and Dolly Theis at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR). The strategies contained around 689 policies which the researchers analyzed to establish if they have been appropriate for the purpose in terms of content, strategic focus, implementation viability, and theoretical basis and evidence.

Theis indicated that in the past three decades UK governments have had several policies to tackle the issue of obesity, but the policies have not had a significant impact in reducing obesity levels and inequality. Interestingly, most of these policies were flawed from the onset as they were difficult to implement. Also, there has been a failure to get lessons from past mistakes.