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When people survive a life-threatening disease or medical occurrence, it can be life altering. Such is the case with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Having survived a serious challenge with coronavirus, necessitating a hospital stay, Johnson is engaging on a whole new personal challenge – one which he invites all of his countrymen to join him on.
“Better Health” is the name of a new weight loss campaign he has launched with the familiar gusto we know him to have. Having experienced the most serious part of coronavirus had to do with lung involvement, and knowing that researchers are now talking about a heightened risk for serious complications to those who get the virus and have added weight, of even 10 pounds or more, particularly carried in the upper body, Johnson now says, “I was too heavy, and it was dangerous.” He is now taping videos of inspiration, walking his dog, and has engaged his health officials in a new obesity strategy to beat coronavirus (COVID-19) and protect the NHS.
The new package of measures and ‘Better Health’ campaign announced to help people lose weight, include some “meaty” measures.
Americans can only imagine how long changes like this would take to happen – measurable in years.
A raft of measures have been revealed as part of the government’s new obesity strategy to get the nation fit and healthy.
Obesity is one of the biggest health crises the country faces. Almost two-thirds (63%) of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity – and 1 in 3 children leave primary school overweight or obese, with obesity-related illnesses costing the NHS £6 billion a year.
The urgency of tackling the obesity time bomb has been brought to the fore by evidence of the link to an increased risk from COVID-19.
Living with excess weight puts people at greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19, with risk growing substantially as body mass index (BMI) increases. Nearly 8% of critically ill patients with COVID-19 in intensive care units have been morbidly obese, compared with 2.9% of the general population.
As the government continues to respond to this unprecedented global pandemic, ministers will today set out a comprehensive package of measures to help people take control of their own future by losing weight, getting active and adopting a healthier lifestyle.
Rather than focusing primarily on childhood obesity, the strategy represents a new focus on empowering adults to lose weight as well.
This plan is being launched alongside an exciting new ‘Better Health’ campaign, led by Public Health England (PHE), which will call on people to embrace a healthier lifestyle and to lose weight if they need to, supported by a range of evidence-based tools and apps providing advice on how to reduce the waistline.
The measures in this world-leading plan include:
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said, “Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier. If we all do our bit, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus – as well as taking pressure off the NHS.”
Johnson very much aligns weight loss with being a patriotic undertaking.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said, “Everyone knows how hard losing weight can be, so we are taking bold action to help everyone who needs it. When you’re shopping for your family or out with friends, it’s only fair that you are given the right information about the food you’re eating to help people to make good decisions. To help support people we need to reduce unhelpful influences like promotions and adverts that affect what you buy and what you eat. Taken together, supported by an inspiring campaign and new smart tools, will get the country eating healthily and losing the pounds. We know obesity increases the risk of serious illness and death from coronavirus – so it’s vital we take action on obesity to protect the NHS and Improve our nation’s health.”
Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at PHE, said: “These plans are ambitious and rightly so. Tackling obesity will help prevent serious illness and save lives. The main reason we put on weight is because of what we eat and drink but being more active is important too. Making healthier choices easier and fairer for everyone, and ensuring the right support is there for those who need it, is critical in tackling obesity. These bold measures will help us tip the scales on obesity. The argument for action is the clearest it’s ever been. Overconsumption of calories is one of the most significant contributing factors in becoming overweight. Figures show many adults are consuming 200 to 300 extra calories a day above recommended daily guidelines with children who are already overweight are consuming up to 500 calories more than they need every day. The environment we live in plays a significant role in tackling obesity: the information they are given to make those choices, the choices we are offered, and the influences that shape those choices. This will support individual choice and give families a fairer chance to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. The measures set out today signal a clear commitment from the government to support individual efforts and kickstart a national effort to tackle obesity.