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More than four in 10 overweight Britons are depressed due to their size – poll

By Laura Parnaby, PA

More than four in 10 overweight people in the UK are depressed because of their size – signalling a “growing mental health crisis”, a poll has suggested.

In a survey of 2,000 people with a BMI over 25 by NHS partner Oviva, 45% said they have felt depressed because of their weight and 25% said they stay at home as much as possible as a consequence of their size.

Some 20% of respondents also said they are worried about socialising because their weight puts them at increased risk of becoming seriously ill from coronavirus.

And 46% said they have avoided making a doctor’s appointment they had needed over the past 12 months because they were worried about the NHS being under pressure amid the pandemic.

Dr Mark Jenkins, the UK managing director of Oviva – the company behind an NHS-partnered weight loss app, described depression tied to obesity in the UK as a “growing mental health crisis”.

He said: “The figures are in and it’s shocking to hear from people who are overweight or living with obesity that they are unable to exercise, they’re feeling depressed, they’re staying at home… it is a growing mental health crisis that needs tackling head on.

“It’s very good news that the Government is spending money on building hospitals and recruiting nurses.

“We’d like this to be accompanied with a doubling in funding for weight management services, and the extra money to be used on smart digital healthcare.”

Dr Jenkins described smart digital healthcare as services such as tailored coaching and psychological support from healthcare professionals via a mobile phone app like Oviva.

He said that harnessing technology in healthcare will help cut waiting lists and make treatment more accessible for those with mobility issues.

Some 25.6 million people in England are overweight, or 62% of the adult population, according to Oviva.

The digital health company added that of this group, 11.4 million, or 25% of the adult population, are living with obesity.

Oviva has called for the Government to double the funding going into weight management services in the upcoming spending review from £70 million to £140 million.

The Oviva-commissioned poll was conducted by research company Censuswide in August 2021.

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