Obesity Strategy Plan and the apps that could help
Today, the UK government unveiled the long awaited Obesity Strategy Plan, which advocates for the reduction of child obesity in England, by reducing sugar content in food and drink by 20% by 2020.
The strategy which was initially expected last December, coincides with the wave of British success at the Rio Olympics. Coincidence? Perhaps not, as much of the strategy has been geared towards daily exercise, rather than what many consider to be the root of the problem the lax restrictions on the food and drink industry.
The plan to reduce child obesity sees a host of recommendations, with the food and drink industry encouraged to cut sugar content by 5% in popular children’s products such as cereals and sweets. Primary schools have also been encouraged to deliver at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, with school sports to acquire greater funding as a result of the boosted tax on sugary drinks which will come into force by 2018.
Whilst in theory, the strategy does propose a number of beneficial suggestions, health advisors have been quick to note that this is all the plan is built on, suggestions, not mandatory points which could result in real change.
The strategy was set to be one of the most important health initiatives of modern times, implementing monumental change to diet and health care. It was also thought to be the starting point of the reversal of the crippling financial burden the NHS faces due to the multitude of unnecessary diet related diseases, but many feel the plan has fallen disappointedly short of what is needed to tackle such a grave problem.
The watered down strategy has seen proposed curbs on unhealthy food advertisement before the 9pm watershed dropped, and the plan to ban unhealthy foods from supermarket checkouts abandoned. Focusing instead on the importance of school sports, which advocates have suggested is more of a victory for the food industry than for health campaigners. Chef Jamie Oliver, staunch supporter of the ‘Sugar Tax’ has criticised the strategy as disappointing and underwhelming, suggesting that the “health of our future generations remains at stake.”
The government has said that it is prepared to introduce legislation to force companies to act if they fail to reduce sugar levels sufficiently, but with a third of children leaving primary school overweight or obese, the lacklustre and underwhelming strategy is disappointing to say the least. However, as diet and food continue to dominate the headlines it has meant that we have seen a surge in the number of health related apps, we’ve picked three apps which aim to make healthier eating more viable.
Designed in conjunction with the UK government and the NHS, the Change4Life Sugar Smart app helps with spotting how much sugar is in everyday foods, making it easier to make healthier choices and in turn cut sugar intake. With simple graphics designed to cater to children and adults, you simply scan product barcodes and the app will reveal the number of sugar cubes that are inside, you’ll be surprised just how much sugar is in everyday food and how quickly it can build up over the course of the day.
Whilst mySugr is not technically a healthy eating app, it is perhaps one of the most useful health based apps for people suffering with diabetes. While many suffer from diabetes through ill health rather than through the cause of diet, diabetes is one of the most prominent illnesses caused by obesity.
mySugar is an all round tracking app, allowing for quick and easy logging of meals, medications and blood glucose levels. Through the easy to use interface users can keep track of their own health simply and efficiently, even being able to determine which foods they may need to cut back on. mySugr was designed by those living with diabetes and this transpires through how informed and easy to use the app is, and users must agree as it is the number 1 diabetes diary app in 6 countries.
Fooducate is a great tool in helping you to achieve your health, diet and fitness goals. Like having your own personal weight loss coach, the app allows you to track your food, activity, sleep and even your mood.
The app also allows you to add your own foods and recipes to track, and has the ability to scan over 250,000 product barcodes, offering healthy suggestions and alternatives. It was recently named the best app in Apple’s iPhone Health and Fitness category, great if you are looking for an all round health/weight loss app.