Public Health England calls on public to shed lockdown pounds in new campaign

Survey of 5,000 adults found two in five people have put on weight since March 2020, with half of these gaining at least a stone.

Better Health: film is full of appetising imagery of fruit and veg
Better Health: film is full of appetising imagery of fruit and veg

With exercise facilities such as gyms and swimming pools closed, few ways to stay entertained besides eating, and strain on many people’s mental health, it was inevitable that the various lockdowns over the past 18 months would lead to significant weight gain for many, and a new survey has revealed the extent of that.

Out of 5,000 UK adults polled by Opinium in July, two in five (41%) said they had put on weight since last March, and half of those (21% of the total) gained at least a stone (14 pounds or 6.4kg).

To help address this, Public Health England has kicked off a new campaign under the "Better health" banner, which launched last summer, calling on people to tackle their weight gain through a combiniation of better dietary choices and increased physical activity.

The campaign includes a TV ad created by Tom Kennedy and Amy Parkhill at M&C Saatchi and directed by James Lawes through Darling Films. It will be supported by radio, video-on-demand, online video, print and social, with media planning handled by Wavemaker and buying by OmniGov. PR, handled by Freuds, includes a film featuring Birds of a Feather actress Linda Robson talking about her own experience with weight gain.

PHE worked with the Multicultural Marketing Consultancy to ensure the activity was culturally competent and to raise awareness of the campaign for people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, with tailored messaging via specialist media channels.

The comms are accompanied by services including the NHS Weight Loss Plan App, which was created and developed with the agency Flipside. The app has achieved more than a million downloads since its launch and has since been updated to improve user experience and functionality, adding features designed to change it to being a “weight loss companion”.

Alexia Clifford, marketing director at PHE, said: “Our new 'Better health' campaign builds on the insight that many of our target audience feel that they have put on a few ‘lockdown pounds’ and are keen to do something about it.

We’re encouraging people to use the summer as a reset moment, highlighting the range of tools and support that are available to make a few healthy changes.”

PHE is set to be replaced this autumn with the new Office for Health Promotion, which according to a government statement will “enable more joined-up, sustained action between national and local government, the NHS and cross-government, where much of the wider determinants of health sit”.

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