Bangla Sanglap desk: A recent England-wide survey by Public Health England (PHE) reveals that 85% of South Asian adults are motivated to introduce healthy habits into their lifestyle this summer.1
The new insights show the extent that lockdown has impacted the eating and physical activity habits of different communities with 43% of South Asian adults reporting that they have put on weight since lockdown. On average, those who said they had gained weight during this period reported they had gained over half a stone (5.8kg) and 72% believed this was due to eating unhealthily and eating too much.1
In response, PHE has launched its latest ‘Better Health’ campaign to encourage adults across the nation to lose excess weight, eat more healthily and get active this summer. The new campaign offers free evidence-based support and guidance to those working towards a healthier weight.
There are a variety of NHS endorsed apps, including the newly updated NHS Weight Loss Plan app – which according to new research due to be published by PHE, suggests that those who used and followed the plan over 12 weeks, reported an average loss of almost a stone.
The wide range of resources also includes new recipes that offer healthier versions of traditional south asian dishes such as chicken jalfrezi, macher jhol, and punjabi dhal to help people introduce small and simple changes this summer. These recipes, and more, will be available on the NHS Easy Meals App.
As part of the campaign brothers Neil and Sean Mukherjee from Oxford, have shared their experience of weight gain during the pandemic and how they have worked together to develop healthier eating habits over lockdown.
For Neil and Sean, cooking is an opportunity to be experimental with traditional recipes and make healthy tweaks. The brothers learnt to cook from their mother from an early age. “She taught us that spices act as the foundation of all South Asian cooking,” says Neil. Later as adults, they spent some time in India and learnt how to cook more traditional Indian recipes.
Neil Mukherjee said: “Our relationship with food is so important. We wanted to start eating better, but we wanted to continue eating the Indian dishes we know and love. We used the Better Health website to find tips on how to get started on our better health journey.”
Now, instead of reaching for coconut oil, they opt for healthier oils such as sunflower or olive oil. The brothers have also reduced their rice and chapati portions, and increased their vegetable intake after being inspired by all the vegetable-based dishes they discovered whilst in India.
Dr Linia Patel (PhD, RD, MBDA), Dietitian & Sports Nutritionist, said: “Maintaining healthy habits has been far from easy over the past year which for many of us has meant we have gained more weight than we might have expected. However, summer is a great opportunity to eat healthily, be more active, and start making more changes to lose some weight and improve our health. That is where the Better Health campaign comes in, it has a range of free tools and support if you want to eat healthier, get active and lose weight. The NHS Weight Loss Plan app for example helps people lose weight in an easy, healthy and safe manner.”
Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist, Public Health England said: “The past sixteen months have caused many to change their habits so it is not a surprise to see so many people reporting weight gain.
“We know how hard it can be to lose weight and keep it off – so, we are providing a range of support options to help motivate people and help them maintain a healthy weight. It’s never too late to make changes to help improve your health. Visit the Better Health website for ideas and support that is right for you and you can seek support from your local weight management service.”
Better Health is also working in partnership with a number of weight management and physical activity partners who are providing both free and exclusive discounted offers. PHE is also working with local authorities to provide weight management support to those who need it.
The upcoming launch of the new Office for Health Promotion in Autumn will lead national efforts to level up the health of the nation by continuing to support people living with obesity, supporting mental health and promoting physical activity.
Search ‘Better Health’ or visit nhs.uk/betterhealth for free tools and support to start leading a healthier lifestyle today.