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Video: Sir Sam Everington on obesity in young people: ‘Schools are becoming incubators for long-term health problems…’

A leading voice in social prescribing has called obesity levels among young people ‘shocking’, saying more needs to be done to address future health and prevent the rise of long-term conditions including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

The government announced this week a ‘Better Health’ drive on obesity in a bid to get the nation fitter, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiling new initiatives that would help “reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus”.

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GP Sir Sam Everington, a pioneering voice in social prescribing, runs the Bromley By Bow health centre in Tower Hamlets, which has won praise for projects that look at the wider determinants of health

Mr Johnson admitted in a video shared on social media that he was ‘too fat’ when he was taken to intensive care with Covid-19 in early April an urged Britons to lose ‘a bit of weight’ to improve health.

GP Sir Sam Everington, who runs the pioneering Bromley By Bow initiative in Tower Hamlets, which looks at examining the wider determinants of health, praised the Government’s new focus but told the College of Medicine that more funding is needed in education.

Four out of ten 11-year-olds will be overweight or obese in the next five years, with the public health budget in this age group cut by six per cent in the last three years

The London-based GP, who was knighted for services to primary care in 2015, said: “I never thought when I started as a GP 30 years ago that I’d see Type 2 diabetes in teenagers – and we’re seeing that.

“The problem comes to the fore when you look at what’s happening in schools; for five to 18-year-olds, school nurses have been cut by 30 per cent in the last ten years, health visitors by 24 per cent in the last three years.

“The public health budget in this age group has been cut by six per cent in the last three years. Despite that, we’re looking at four out of 10 11-year-olds being obese or overweight in the next five years. London has already hit that target.”

The Goverment’s new plan comes as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with evidence suggesting that people who are overweight or obese have poorer outcomes in fighting the virus.

Statistics show that almost 8 per cent of patients critically ill in intensive care units with the virus were morbidly obese, compared with 2.9 per cent of the general population.

The Prime Minister said part of the plans to reduce UK obesity would see ‘buy one get one free” deals on unhealthy food banned, adverts for junk food shown only after 9pm and restrictions placed on where supermarkets could promote snacks high in sugar and fat.

Find out more about the Bromley by Bow Health Centre at www.bbbc.org.uk or by following the centre’s social media accounts: Twitter: https://twitter.com/bromley_by_bow Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BromleyByBowCentre/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bromley_by_bow_centre/


Sir Sam Everington

Sam has been a GP in Tower Hamlets since 1989 and is chair of NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group and a board member of NHS Clinical Commissioners. Sam was knighted for services to primary care in 2015.