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Prevention is key to tacking obesity-related illnesses

Dec 5, 2018 3:07:00 PM / by Lauren Gibson

UK Government has announced that an extra £20.5 billion a year will be given to the NHS, one of the key priorities being the prevention of ill health.  

Currently the UK spends £97 billion treating diseases but only £8 billion preventing them.

In the UK alone, nearly two thirds of adults and a quarter of children are overweight or obese increasing the risk of a variety of diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Obesity-related ill health is costing the NHS £6 billion a year and £27 billion to the wider society, while the total cost of type 2 diabetes currently sits at £24 billion a year.

Yet many of the diseases putting a significant strain on our NHS are not inevitable. They can and should be prevented.

“Prevention is about helping people stay healthy, happy and independent for as long as possible. This means reducing the chances of problems from arising in the first place and, when they do, supporting people to manage them as effectively as possible.” - Prevention is better than cure, Department of Health and Social Care, 2018

Over half of ill health and early death can be prevented through factors that can be altered (behaviours, social and environmental) to avoid the need for medical treatment.

60% of type 2 diabetes cases can be delayed or prevented through lifestyle change and 1 in 20 cancers can be prevented by a healthier diet.

Yet we live in an obesogenic environment where healthy choices aren’t always clear and easy to make. Action needs to be taken to make these choices easier to make.

“…people are spending too many years in poor health, with these gains in health not felt equally across society. But this is not inevitable; much of ill health could be prevented. Prevention is crucial to improving the health of the whole population, and helping secure the health and social care services we all value and rely on. It will also boost the health of our economy.” – Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

A whole systems approach is key to ensuring people stay well for longer, encompassing all aspects of society from macro (Government, media, industry) to micro (knowledge, skill, availability). Enforcing clear and consistent nutrition labelling on all food and drink products; ensuring schools and workplaces serve healthy food and promote the importance of a healthy lifestyle; and working with industry to promote the reformulation of foods to provide healthier choices.

A large part of this is about giving people the knowledge and tools they need to confidently take control of their health and improve it for the better and to make healthy choices as easy as possible.

myfood24 is an online dietary assessment tool that accurately tracks, monitors and analyses nutritional intake. Initially developed for research into diet-related health conditions, myfood24 will soon be available for use in a healthcare setting. myfood24 can be used to prevent and manage diet-related diseases.

The visual and easy-to-interpret nutritional feedback produced by myfood24 will help those preventing and managing conditions to better understand the impact of their dietary choices. It also will allow health practitioners to remotely track their patient’s progress in real time and quickly see areas for improvement.

To try a free demo of the myfood24 diary, please click here.

If you're interested in using myfood24 in a healthcare setting and would like to be kept up-to-date with our progress, please get in touch.

Tags: obesity

Lauren Gibson

Written by Lauren Gibson

Lauren has an MSc in Nutrition from the University of Leeds and is a Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr).