In a statement, the UK-based microbiome specialists, the firm called for a ‘united front’ from the weight management sector in delivering ‘science-driven’ and ‘sustainable solutions’ to the current epidemic.
“The nutraceutical industry must unite together during the global health crisis to retain the positive lifestyle changes many consumers have made since the start of the pandemic,” says Stephen O’Hara, OptiBiotix’s CEO.
“By helping them adopt a healthier lifestyle now, we can make a big difference to worldwide public wellbeing in the years to come.”
The report, prepared by NHS Digital, found that obesity-related treatments accounted for over a million hospital admissions in the period leading into the global pandemic, suggesting weight was a risk factor for severe Covid.
The figure is a 17% increase (around 150,000) in hospital admissions that were relayed to obesity compared to 2018/19, when there were 876 000 cases.
Just last month, the UK government attempted to address nutrition as a solution to the obesity problem by announcing its intention to ban TV and online junk food adverts before the 9:00pm watershed.
“Today's shocking figures are a growing sign of the nation's obesity crisis,” said NHS England Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis.
“[This] is putting hundreds of thousands of people at greater risk of becoming severely ill with Covid, as well as heart attacks, stroke, cancer and other deadly diseases.”
SlimBiome & weight management
Together with the University of Roehampton, Optibiotix scientists have recently completed a study that found its SlimBiome formulation that comprises of glucomannan, oligofructose and chromium, could be used as part of a calorie-controlled diet.
The diet can be used to reduce body weight, body fat, waist and hip circumference, as well as cravings for sweet and savoury foods in obese female adults.
In 2010, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approved the use of glucomannan, a sugar made from the root of the konjac plant (Amorphophallus konjac).
Equally suitable in powder, capsules, and tablet form, glucommanan was given the green light to be used for weight loss in obese adults, in the context of an energy-restricted diet, when administered at 3 grams (g) daily in three doses of at least 1 g each, together with 1–2 glasses of water before meals.
“There is now growing evidence that suggests excess weight can increase the risk of serious illness, ICU admission and death from COVID-19, as reported by Public Health England and other international bodies,” says Dr Adele Costabile, Reader in Nutrition and Life Sciences at the University of Roehampton.
“With positive coronavirus cases surging globally, it’s now more important than ever to tackle the obesity epidemic.”
Eating habits in lockdown
According to research firm International Data Group (IDG), 83% of UK consumers altered how they planned, purchased and prepared their food during the first national lockdown, with more than half of those surveyed saying they ate more fruit and vegetables during this period.
It’s clear that more needs to be done by the food, drink and nutraceutical industries to combat the global obesity epidemic,” O’Hara adds.
“This means supporting consumers by providing scientifically and clinically proven functional ingredients and products, which reduce hunger and food cravings.
“Consumers can then manage the amount and type of food they eat as part of a change in lifestyle to deliver weight loss that is sustainable.”