The UK government's Better Health strategy: How to start losing weight

The UK government is encouraging us all to lose weight with its Better Health strategy. Here's how to get started

Better Health
(Image credit: iStock)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has launched a new drive to get us all fitter and healthier: the Better Health strategy. Said to be based on his own experience fighting off COVID-19 in hospital, the Prime Minister is encouraging everyone to shed a few pounds in order to keep us in good health, leaving us in better condition to face down the ongoing global health crisis.

But for many people, losing weight is hard. For some, it has been an uphill struggle for many years. So how can overweight individuals get started on their weight loss journey, and what new guidance or help is this government drive able to provide? 

Better Health: Why is the UK launching a new lose weight campaign?

Overweight and obese individuals are at a greater risk of dying from coronavirus than patients of a healthy weight. According to an analysis of NHS records, obese patients with preexisting conditions like heart disease and diabetes – both of which are caused by being overweight – were at more than double the risk of dying from coronavirus.

In the video below, the Prime Minister attributes the severity of his battle with coronavirus to being overweight. He since claims to have lost over a stone since leaving the hospital, and is launching the Better Health drive, which aims to reach 35 million people, to encourage everyone to lose weight over summer. 

It is estimated that the NHS spent £6.1 billion per year on overweight and obesity-related ill-health in 2015, and that number is thought to have only increased with time. A government sponsored drive to lose weight will take pressure off the NHS, freeing up resources to fight coronavirus, cancer and other non-obesity-related health issues.

Better Health: The NHS' free weight loss plan


(Image credit: NHS)

The NHS has put together a 12-week weight loss plan, which you can download absolutely free from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store

The weight loss plan allows you to set weight loss goals, plan your meals, and uses an in-built body mass index calculator to provide you with some starting information to help you customise your plan. If you're getting active and burning more calories, the app will allow you to record your activity and progress.

The way doctors will handle obesity is also changing. Doctors will be able to prescribe cycling for the first time, providing access to bikes through the NHS. Ministers have promised cycling infrastructure will improve. 

Better Health: Five easy tips to start losing weight today

Walking to lose weight

(Image credit: Getty)

Want to get started on your own? Here are five of our best health hacks to set you off on your weight loss journey. All of the below are easy, effective lifestyle swaps you can start implementing today. 

  • Swap sugary coffee for green tea. One study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences found four cups of green tea per day for two months led to a drop in body weight, waist circumference and blood pressure. 
  • Go for a walk. The government recommends every adult gets at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. This doesn't have to be intense running or a hard gym session: if you're just starting out, walking to lose weight will do just fine.
  • Have salmon and veggies for dinner. A Mediterranean diet, consisting of lots of olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts and oily fish, is both actively beneficial for your health and good for your weight loss goals.
  • Buy a fitness tracker. Fitness trackers are a relatively inexpensive way to get loads of information about your body. You can track the calories you burn, compare your walks and runs to your personal bests, and monitor your heart rate. Our Best Fitbit guide is a great start. 
  • Go to bed early. Lack of sleep has been found to produce lots more of the stress hormone cortisol, which also increases your appetites. If you're feeling low energy, your body craves unhealthy snacks. A full eight hours a night will not only recharge your batteries, but also curb your appetite. 

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Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.