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“2020health is an important and thoughtful contributor to the health debate”

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chairman, Health Select Committee


2020health Press Release Tackling obesity - What the UK can learn from other countries

Latest report argues UK still lacks strategic response to obesity.

2020health’s third report on obesity since 2014 highlights that strong and mandated central policy, supporting bold, holistic local action, is still needed to impact what is arguably the greatest health challenge of the 21st century.

Tackling obesity - What the UK can learn from other countries (Matt James, Dr Aaron Parkhurst and Jon Paxman) examines topical obesity intervention strategies from around the world to frame the question: can the UK learn from policy abroad?

Director of 2020health Julia Manning said, “No country has unequivocally burst the obesity bubble, but there are countries, regions, cities and towns that have explored interventions and approaches that the UK has not. We cannot claim to be serious about reducing the increasing prevalence of obesity if the UK’s approach continues to be piecemeal”.

“In 2020health’s opinion, we betray the next generation with our reticence to take obesity seriously and comprehensively.”

Research by 2020health shows that at a local level, community-based programmes for school-aged children, typically 0–12s, are much more effective than interventions focused on school environments. This is particularly true of programmes that traverse childhood and educational settings, the family home, community structures and the built environment.

Report author Jon Paxman said, “The UK government has rightly placed principal focus on children, but a health-in-all-policies approach has yet to be realised. Currently, school nutrition and exercise policies are diluted by an opt-in position among academies and free schools, and are not always observed by schools under the Local Authority.

“If the UK fails to implement joined-up, multi-sectoral obesity prevention strategies for children and their families across a range of local contexts, it has little hope in ever reversing the obesity epidemic among the wider population.”

The full report is available on our website.

Disclaimer: All 2020health’s work on obesity has been funded by unrestricted educational grants from AB Sugar. The views and opinions within our reports do not necessarily reflect those of AB Sugar.


2020health is an independent, social enterprise think tank whose mission is to “Make Health Personal” by giving people the information, understanding and confidence to take a meaningful role in their health and wellbeing, and creating the conditions for a healthy society. 2020health’s primary field of interest is health technology innovation - covering NHS IT, telehealth, use of technology by the US Veteran’s Health Administration, personal electronic healthcare records and consumer-available digital health. In parallel, 2020health has investigated themes of quality, access, impact and equity in spheres of the public’s health, with research covering obesity, immunisation, mental health, alcohol, employment, and whole school health and wellbeing. 2020health believes public involvement in healthcare is essential for driving forward the changes required.



There is rarely ever a day when there isn’t a story about obesity in the press. It has to be one of the most discussed public health problems of our generation. However, the media coverage quite clearly shows that we are not solving the problem, in fact recent figures (from 2018) show that hospital admissions in the UK due to obesity have doubled in the past four years. read on Obesity