24 / 9 / 2014 11.25am
Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, will announce a five-year plan with the aim of tackling the rise in obesity.
Speaking to the Public Health England annual conference in Coventry last Wednesday, Mr Stevens said: "Obesity is the new smoking. It represents a slow-motion car crash in terms of avoidable illness and rising health care costs. If, as a nation, we keep piling on the pounds around the waistline, we'll be piling on the pounds in terms of future taxes needed just to keep the NHS afloat." He also pointed out that nearly one in five children are now obese and a quarter of adults.
In light of this, Mr Stevens has suggested that, under the new ‘Five year forward view,’ employers will receive tax breaks if they meet the certified standards set by the National Institute of Health Care and Excellence (NICE) for health programmes.
Employers would be rewarded for schemes that encouraged their employees to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. These can be simple ways to lose weight such as jogging clubs or group weigh-ins. Mr Stevens called for the NHS to be a role model in this, removing fast food outlets from hospital foyers and encouraging other outlets to stop supplying sugary drinks.
There will be specific incentives for the NHS in order to help its staff promote health and wellbeing and stay healthy. He also encouraged local councils to make local decisions on fast food, alcohol, tobacco and other health-related policy decisions.
NHS Employers will be releasing a series of toolkits later this year, to help employers implement the NICE guidelines specifically for the workplace.