Obesity is the excessive or abnormal accumulation of fat to the degree that health may be impaired. Globally, there have been significant increases in obesity prevalence rates over the last 20 years. Within the UK, English obesity prevalence rates in adults have increased by three- to four-fold since the 1980s. Because of the complexity of the causes and drivers of obesity, how to combat it presents significant public health challenges.
The consequences of obesity are well known. Obesity is not only associated with chronic conditions such as type II diabetes, coronary heart disease and some cancers, it also has social (discrimination and bias), psychosocial (low self-esteem, anxiety and depression) and economic (direct healthcare and other associated costs) consequences. Thus, in many countries, including those in the UK which are faced with the obesity epidemic, tackling it has become a public health priority.
In the UK, following asymmetric devolution in 1998, the responsibilities for formulating and enacting public health polices (among other areas such as education and agriculture) are now under the auspices of the constituent countries of the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales). Accordingly, public policies to address obesity have been formulated and implemented by the devolved regions.
Devolution can present challenges for a comprehensive and coherent policy response for the UK in tackling obesity, but it also presents the scope for independent policy action within the devolved regions. The ability of the devolved regions to explore separate policy responses in addressing obesity provides opportunities for learning and for making comparisons.
Editor's comments - [ In view of the magnitude of the obesity epidemic in the UK, and according to this study, devolved regions which have not already done so should consider to have in place national strategies to tackle the issue. A further recommendation is made in this document, to have a UK-wide strategy which would serve as a complement to the devolved regions’ strategies. The researchers suggest that 'throughout the UK, broader comprehensive approaches which extend beyond the prevention of childhood obesity and encompass prevention and treatment across the life-course are urgently needed'. ] Reference this?Cryer, J. (Year). This page title in italics. Retrieved date, from <this page's full URL>
In the text: Cryer (year)
Reference : Musingarimi, P. (2008) Obesity in the UK: A review and comparative analysis of policies within the devolved regions. London: International Longevity Centre
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