UK Quietly Disbands Government Obesity Panel

Obesity rates continue to rise across the UK at a startling pace, so why did government leaders disband the panel tasked with tackling obesity in Britain?

Ministers from Britain’s Department of Health are coming under scrutiny after disbanding an advisory group initially formed to address the obesity crisis in the UK.

“Ministers were more inclined to involve food and drinks companies than scientific experts,” Klim McPherson, a member of the panel, told the Financial Times.

Critics add that Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s tepid efforts to educate the public about making healthier food choices were ineffectual. Tackling the obesity epidemic requires a societal shift, experts note, rather than individual effort.

More than 60 percent of adults in England are obese, according to government statistics, and childhood obesity is also on the rise. To address the growing trend, the government launched the Change4Life campaign, which advertised lifestyle changes on television. Major corporations, such as Coca-Cola, Mars, Kraft, Nestle and PepsiCo, had signed on to support the effort. Their financial contributions toward the campaign, however, were evidence of the government’s cozy relationship with food and drink companies, insiders say.

In an interview with the Telegraph, National Obesity Forum spokesperson Tam Fry described the decision as “nothing other than a bare-faced request for cash from a rich food and drink industry to bail out a cash-starved Department of Health campaign.”

The Department of Health confirmed this past week its decision to disband the expert panel several weeks ago and announced plans to create “new advisory arrangements for obesity.”

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