How the food delivery boom is fueling Britain’s obesity crisis as experts warn we’re becoming ‘addicted’ to apps

FAST-food Britain is set to become Europe’s fattest country as a rise in delivery apps fuels the UK’s obesity epidemic.

Experts are warning we are becoming ‘addicted’ to technology, after on-demand meals have jumped 100% since the Covid pandemic hit.


Fast-food Britain is on course to become Europe’s fattest nation as a rise in delivery apps fuels the UK’s obesity epidemicCredit: Alamy
Takeaways have become the norm during lockdown - I put 3rd, says Haley Green, 50


Takeaways have become the norm during lockdown – I put 3rd, says Haley Green, 50Credit: David Dyson

Now, doctors are warning that the apps not only lead to weight gain, but also an increase in related health problems such as type 2 diabetes.

Dr Chinnadorai Rajeswaran, who runs the London Obesity Clinic in Harley Street, has noticed people gaining weight during the pandemic.

He said: “Apps make it easier to get food. When you’re upset, you have easy access to takeout. You can have your evening meal at 6 p.m. and still order take-out at midnight if you wish.

“Most of my patients put in a few stones. At the height of the pandemic, restaurants were closed. All they had was access to apps.

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“The pandemic is a good example to show how these applications have promoted obesity. The food is often even less healthy than in a restaurant.

His comments come as a damning World Health Organization report predicts the UK will become the fattest country in Europe by the start of the 2030s, with 37% of adults classed as obese.

The three main delivery apps – Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat – have seen demand increase since the start of the pandemic.

These apps, which 70% of UK adults say they use, have made fast food more accessible than ever.

Former teacher Haley Green, 50, who lives in Forest Hill, south London, with her husband and two children, went from a size 16 to a 22 after turning to apps in lockdown out.

She said Deliveroo and Uber Eats have become the equivalent of an “adult ice cream truck rolling down the street” and now uses her Instagram profile @postcards.from.haley to share her weight loss journey.

She said: ‘Before the first lockdown we got a takeaway once every three weeks

“But lockdown changed everything, and once I used the app, treats became the norm.

“We had milkshakes delivered to brighten up the day. If we fancied a tub of ice cream it was a click away. The kids could have burgers or pizza and we could treat ourselves too.

“My son and daughter loved telling me about meal deals or hinting that they fancied a curry or a burger because there was a voucher or discount on the apps.

“My kids and my husband have super-fast metabolisms, but I’m different, so after two years I won 3rd, and it’s hard to lose.”

Stick to meat and two vegetables

Dr. Aseem Malhotra, Consultant Cardiologist

To defeat the obesity epidemic, we must first defeat Big Food.
Huge food corporations design hyper appetizing and addictive food products to manipulate the masses for commercial gain.

Addiction is the opposite of free will, which further negates any argument that the obesity crisis is a matter of personal responsibility.

Unethical and undemocratic laws then allow these industries to mass market and advertise products that are harmful to health.

If you want to lose weight and be healthy, avoid any food that comes out of a package and contains five or more ingredients, usually with additives and preservatives.

This includes packaged bread and low-fat flavored yogurts. The traditional British diet of meat and two vegetables is actually very healthy.

The message is simple. Eat real food.

The food apps industry is expected to be worth £6billion by 2025, the same amount the NHS spends each year to tackle obesity.

As well as creating a range of mobility issues, being overweight is linked to at least 13 cancers, heart disease and musculoskeletal disorders.

The government also estimates that obesity causes more than 30,000 deaths a year and erases an average of nine years from life expectancy.

Cambridge University researcher and obesity expert Dr Giles Yeo argues that food manufacturers should be forced to make their meals healthier.

He said: “Unless we were going to be punitive and decide that a company like Deliveroo should be taxed or penalised, which I don’t see happening, I don’t think we can do anything about it. food delivery.

“We have to target the people who prepare the food. If we can get food manufacturers to make their food healthier, then Deliveroo will deliver healthier food. »

Takeout meals are the most popular among millennials, with some admitting to eating up to ten a month. And a quarter of children have had takeaway meals delivered to school, according to a report by the charity Royal Society for Public Health.

Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum campaign group, said: “We are in a terrible position.

“Deliveroo delivers pizza to schools, making school lunches absurd.

“We have a good standard of school meals, but this is being shattered by low cost and readily available unhealthy food.

“We’ve had cheap food for too long. We got used to it and if it goes up, politicians won’t be popular. It’s a big game and unfortunately we are all suffering.

Boris Johnson has been accused of ‘totally ignoring’ a 2019 report by then Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies which outlined plans to tackle the country’s childhood obesity problems. She called for a ban on junk food advertising and higher prices for foods high in salt, sugar or fat.

Last month, the government introduced mandatory calorie lists in restaurants and cafes with more than 250 employees.


Mr Fry thinks the Prime Minister should consider more ‘nanny states’ laws. He said: ‘The nannies were excellent in their knowledge of childcare.

Psychologist Emma Kenny has warned that apps are designed to facilitate “bad choices”.

She said: “They will offer you offers, inform you, invite you constantly. It’s about inducing you psychologically. Some apps remind us to drink more water, others tell us it’s 30% off your favorite curry on Just Eat.

This is something online marketer Rachael Shortt knows well. The 27-year-old mother-of-one, from Bangor, Gwynedd, has won more than 3rd since she started ordering three takeaways a week from Just Eat and Deliveroo in 2020.

She said: “My baby Theodore was almost two when the first lockdown hit and I was exhausted.

“But all I had to do was press my phone and a hot curry or Chinese meal would arrive.

“The marketing campaigns and discount offers were a real draw. But when I couldn’t get my size eight jeans on, I was shocked. When I had to buy size 14 or 16 clothes, I knew I had gained more than a few pounds of lockdown.

Deliveroo told us: “Our vision for health is simple, we want to provide the right information and a greater selection of healthier choices, along with improved navigation to help find them.”

Just Eat said: ‘Just Eat is an online marketplace that works with over 60,000 restaurants across the UK, serving a diverse range of over 100 cuisines, from grilled chicken, vegan and vegetarian options to traditional curries , sushi or pizza.

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“Many already offer healthier menu options and smaller portions so customers can make choices for their families.”

Uber Eats has been contacted for comment.

Rachael Shortt, 27, says:


Rachael Shortt, 27, says: “The marketing campaigns and discounts were a real draw – I went from size 8 to size 14”Credit: Pacemaker

food delivery apps


The sharing app RIDE expanded to food deliveries in August 2014. Named Uber Fresh, it was renamed a year later. The San Francisco-based company cashed in an exclusive deal with McDonald’s in 2017, but lost the exclusive rights in 2020. First profit – $25 million – last year.


ORIGINAL food tech site founded in 2005 after friends David Buttress and Jesper Buch came up with the idea while having lunch at a West London Nando’s. UK market leader with 45%. Profit of £108m in 2020 after 4m people downloaded the app, but loss of £60m in 2021 after promotional spend.


FOUNDED by Will Shu and Greg Orlowski in 2013 in London. Operates worldwide including France, Netherlands, Italy, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuwait. 26% market share in the UK. Never in profit, the stock market float collapsed in 2020, posting a loss of £298m this year.