Expert says junk food should be treated like smoking as 2 in 3 Brits overweight or obese


Dr Michael Mosley urged No10 to act as two-thirds of Brits are overweight or obese after 30 years of missed Government targets. In Britain, one in seven kids is obese when they start reception class

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Britain is Europe’s second-fattest country

Dr Michael Mosley says the war on fat must adopt radical action that was used to stub out smoking.

He urged No10 to act as two-thirds of Brits are overweight or obese after 30 years of missed Government targets.

The TV medic said: “We’ve got to treat it like smoking. To some degree it’s about personal responsibility but an awful lot of it is about things like marketing, social pressures, accessibility.”

Dr Mosley is hopeful of beating obesity because when he was a student half of people smoked but now it is around 13%.

The 5:2 diet expert said: “Restricting advertising, taxation and a whole host of things made an impact.

“If we’re going to make a dent in this problem, Government is going to have to really get involved.”

With his new programme Michael Mosley : Who Made Britain Fat? airing tomorrow night, the host said the nation is facing a crisis.

Dr Michael Mosley said Britain is facing a crisis


Jon Cottam)

Britain is Europe’s second-fattest country and one in seven kids is obese when they start reception class.

Researchers found 689 policies were drawn up to tackle obesity from 1992 to 2020. But Dr Mosley said one that made a difference was the sugar tax, announced in 2016 by George Osborne, who features in the programme.

Before the levy was imposed in 2018, half of all soft drinks produced in the UK were rich in sugar. Now it’s just 15%.

Dr Mosley believes the sugar tax, backed by chef Jamie Oliver who is also in the programme, should be extended.

He also urged politicians to subsidise healthier foods, adding: “The cost of obesity in this country is horrendous.”

But after Prime Minister Boris Johnson signalled his opposition to extending the sugar tax last summer, Dr Mosley thinks the measure if unlikely.

The doctor hopes obesity can be tackled


Getty Images)

He added: “That’s a shame. But we are hoping to see changes in the supermarkets and advertising.”

New laws are set to be adopted in the next year, including limits on unhealthy food promotions in shops.

Proposals to ban junk food adverts before 9pm are subject to approval.

Pushing the crackdown on junk food, Dr Mosley said the impact of exercise on fat loss can be less effective than many people believe.

He added it takes a seven-mile walk to burn off a 400-calorie chocolate muffin, which many are unlikely to do.

Michael Mosley: Who Made Britain Fat?, 9pm tomorrow, C4.

What the government can do

  • Introduce proposed pre-watershed ban on junk food advertising
  • Extend the sugar tax
  • Subsidise healthier food

What you can do

  • Avoid ultra-processed foods like sweets, crisps and pre-packaged meals
  • Fill up on healthy food like fruit and veg, including tinned and frozen options
  • Avoid rewarding exercise with unhealthy food as treats

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