Beat campaigners celebrate improvement in NHS app

Posted 14/10/2020

Public Health England has introduced new measures to safeguard people who are under 18 and people who have a low BMI from using the “Better Health” NHS weight loss app. 

As part of the Public Health Not Public Shaming campaign, in which Beat is demanding any Government-backed measures to address obesity do no harm to people vulnerable to or currently living with an eating disorder, Beat raised concerns about the safety of the NHS weight loss app to Public Health England. Whilst the app informed people living with a low BMI that it was not suitable for them, it went no further in blocking their access which Beat felt was insufficient. The charity also highlighted the wider safeguarding risks that an app that promotes calorie counting and a significant reduction in a person’s calorie intake poses to people living with eating disorders. 

Beat has welcomed the new safeguarding measures which have removed the option for people with a low BMI to access the weight loss app and have introduced clear guidance to under 18s that “this product is only suitable for adults.” However it should be noted that Beat is continuing to call for a wider review of the app to ensure that it does not pose risks to anyone affected by an eating disorder, including people living with obesity and an eating disorder.

Beat’s Chief Executive, Andrew Radford says:

“We would like to thank Public Health England for listening to the feedback that Beat provided. The interventions that Public Health England have introduced will help to deter people with eating disorders and people who may be vulnerable to eating disorders from using the app.

“We would also like to thank our supporters, whose voices and stories have been essential to the Public Health Not Public Shaming campaign.

“We will continue to work with decision makers to ensure that people with experience of eating disorders and experts from the field of eating disorders are consulted on campaigns to address obesity.”

The weight loss app was introduced as a part of the Government’s strategy on obesity. Beat is campaigning against specific aspects of the strategy which pose risks to people affected by eating disorders, including the introduction of calorie labelling on menus and the use of stigmatising language.

To find out more about the campaign, and how you can support our work on this, please visit the Public Health Not Public Shaming campaign page.