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NICE: 'Cut TV time to lose weight'

Draft guidelines on how to help adults and children maintain a healthy weight have been released by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. 

Everyone should be encouraged to walk or cycle to school, work and other places locally, NICE stated.

People should also reduce the amount of time spent watching TV or using "leisure screens" and introduce TV-free days NICE said. 

The draft guidelines emphasise that any improvements, however small, to physical activity or dietary habits are likely to help, but that no single factor such as a specific food, drink or physical activity, will help someone keep a healthy weight. 

NICE is updating its guideline on the identification, assessment and management of overweight and obesity, the original recommendations were published in 2006. This draft update to one section of the original guideline is aimed at those with a responsibility for public health - such as those who commission or implement activities or interventions aimed at preventing obesity.

More draft recommendations include:

Everyone should be encouraged to: 

 - Reduce the overall energy density of the diet by reducing how often energy dense foods (such as fried foods, biscuits, confection and full fat cheese) are eaten and choosing lower energy density foods (such as fruit and vegetables) instead.

 - Follow the principles of a Mediterranean diet, which is a diet predominantly based on vegetables, fruits, beans and pulses, wholegrains, fish and using olive oil instead of other fats. 

 - Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks (including carbonated drinks, sports drinks, squashes and any other hot or cold drinks that contain added sugar).

 - Limit the amount of 'fast' or 'take away' foods eaten.

 - Encourage adults to limit the amount of alcohol they drink: Everyone should be made aware that all alcoholic drinks are a source of additional energy. For example, a man drinking the upper weekly limit of 21 units will be consuming around 1400 to 1800 extra calories each week. 

The guidance also includes recommendations addressing misconceptions about behaviours that may influence weight and gives some examples of simple and easy ways people can keep an eye on their weight. For example, using one of the numerous apps available to track food intake or physical activity or weighing yourself on a regular basis.

Professor Mike Kelly, director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE, said: “Obesity rates have nearly doubled over the last 10 years and continue to be a huge concern for local authorities and the health service in England. NICE has already published a range of guidelines to help prevent and manage obesity, but this draft update focuses on the changes individuals can make that might help them reduce their risk of overweight and obesity. Following a healthier diet and being more physically active is important for everyone, not just if you are already overweight or obese.

“The general rule for maintaining a healthy weight is that energy intake through food and drink should not exceed energy output from daily activity. We all know we should probably take the stairs rather than the lift, cut down on TV time, eat more healthily and drink less alcohol. But it can be difficult to know the most useful changes that we can make in terms of our weight. 

“This updated guideline makes a number of recommendations which aim to ensure that the advice people are given about maintaining a healthy weight is more specific and based on real evidence.”

The draft guidance is available to view on the NICE website.