The Government has released an ambitious plan to retain the increase in walking and cycling during the pandemic by launching a new strategy to tackle obesity, initially allocating funding of £2 billion for projects and initiatives.
Initiatives include a 12-week plan for people to lose weight and GPs prescribing cycling.
It comes after Public Health England research found that being overweight or obese can put people at greater risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19.
It has been estimated that about two-thirds of adults in the UK are above a healthy weight, with overweight and obesity related conditions costing the NHS more than £6bn each year.
During 2018/19 there were nearly 900,000 obesity related hospital admissions in the UK, with obesity being a risk factor for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, some cancers, liver and respiratory disease.
The new “Better Health” Government campaign will aim to reach 35 million people in a bid to help them lose weight and live healthier lives. This will also be supported by a 12-week plan that people can use to develop healthier eating habits, get more active and lose weight.
Part of the campaign will also see GPs being encouraged to prescribe cycling to patients. The scheme will be piloted by a new approach in selected areas with poor health rates and patients will be able to access bikes through their local surgery.
Other commitments announced by the Government are:
- Transforming and setting higher standards for cycling infrastructure with protected routes in towns and cities overseen by a new Inspectorate
- Improving the National Cycle Network
- Boosting investment by creating a long-term cycling programme and budget
- Making streets safer by strengthening the Highway Code to better protect pedestrians and cyclists and working with the police and retailers to tackle bike theft
- Supporting local authorities by empowering them to crack down on traffic offences
- Improving air quality and reducing traffic by creating more low traffic neighbourhoods
- Increasing access to e-bikes by setting up a new national e-bike programme, to help those who are older, have long distances to travel or are less fit to take up cycling.