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  • 05 August 2021
  • 4 min read

Could A Decline In Public Health Justify The Use Of More State Health Apps?

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    • Richard Gill
    • Mat Martin
    • Aubrey Hollebon
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Could A Decline In Public Health Justify The Use Of More State Health Apps?

Repeated lockdowns and restrictions during the pandemic have caused weight gain in more than 40% of adults in England.

A survey found 41 per cent of adults in England said they had put on weight since social restrictions came into place in March 2020, according to Public Health England (PHE).

Do you think the Government was too eager to impose restrictions to fully grasp the likely consequences of their actions?

PHE’s survey of 5,000 people concluded that COVID lockdowns and disrupted daily routines made it challenging for people to eat healthily and keep fit.

PHE chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone said: "The past 16 months have caused many to change their habits, so it is not a surprise to see so many people reporting weight gain.”

People who put on weight during lockdown gained an average of 4.1kg during the course of the pandemic, with 21 per cent saying they put on a stone or more. Among adults aged 35 to 65, the average weight gained rose to 4.6kg.

Given how easily anticipable weight gain was during a period when restricted physical activity and stress combined with seasonal changes to keep people indoors anyway, how much responsibility does Government policy bear for this outcome?

Of the individuals surveyed who had gained weight, 89 per cent said they were motivated to bring healthy new habits into their life this summer.

Consequently, PHE are launching a ‘Better Health’ campaign, offering people support and guidance on how to lose excess weight, and become active using a 12-week plan.

How successful do you think such a public health campaign will be? And will it end up relying on similar behavioural psychology measures as some of the COVID advertising campaigns?Alongside this, under a new initiative to tackle Britain's obesity crisis, Boris Johnson is reported to be looking at instituting a government-backed rewards programme to persuade and encourage families to switch to healthier food and exercise more.

The scheme is to be launched in January and underscores the PM’s determination to tackle growing levels of obesity.

It will monitor family supermarket spending, rewarding those who reduce their calorie intake and buy more fruit and vegetables. People increasing their exercise by taking part in organised events or walking to school will also accumulate extra "points" in a new app.

Would the enthusiasm with which the Government is pursuing digital ID and COVID passports, and the information collection and micromanaging resultant from that, cause you concern when considering whether you should download this new app?In a Financial Times interview, the outgoing head of the NHS Lord Stevens suggested Britons' lifestyles required substantial change, saying: "The layers of the onion... stretch out to things that are obviously beyond a healthcare system's direct control, including the obesogenic food environment that children and poorer communities are exposed to.“

Officials are said to be considering going still further, linking financial rewards to compliance with NHS checks, such as undergoing a smear, mammogram, or health MOT.

Many of the ideas are likely to prove controversial.

Would this app be the beginning of a slippery slope for personal privacy and the ability of the individual to decide for themselves without input from the state?

Or are technologies to be embraced if they allow us to monitor the impact on our struggling NHS resources of people who choose not to take vaccines or live healthily?

And how long will it be if this app is widely adopted before such information is combined, along with your vaccine passport and medical records into one all-encompassing digital ID, with all the concerns for freedom and individual rights that would bring?

Ministers last year argued that if everyone who was overweight lost at least 5lbs, the NHS could save £100 million over the next 5 years.

A lot of societal change, for good or ill, has occurred under the guise of ‘saving the NHS’. Do such financial considerations give the government the right to potentially restrict your access to health services if you are not deemed to be following a healthy living regimen?

Please let us know what you think in the comments, and Like the article if you found it interesting.


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    • Richard Gill
    • Mat Martin
    • Aubrey Hollebon
  • 0
  • 900

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