Obesity increases the risk of death from coronavirus by 40%, according to a study published by UK government agency Public Health England (PHE). This puts at risk the more than 60% of adults in Britain considered overweight or obese, according to PHE.
To tackle obesity, the UK government has launched a GBP 10 million ($12.8 million, €11 million) anti-obesity campaign. Doctors will be encouraged to issue “cycling prescriptions” to overweight patients, as part of the “Better Health” campaign.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to tackle obesity after research showed those who are obese or overweight are at increased risk of death or severe illness from the coronavirus.”Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier,” said Johnson.
In April 2020, Johnson spent a week in a London hospital, including 48 hours in intensive care, suffering from COVID-19. He recently went public with his own weight loss story, which was sparked a health scare. Junior Health Minister, Helen Whately called obesity “one of the greatest health challenges for our country.”
The government plans to bring in more segregated cycling lanes and introduce a ban on showing junk food adverts on television before 9 p.m. and end “buy one get one free” deals on such foods, according to British media reports. According to the report, restaurants will also have to publish the number of calories in the meals they serve.
“COVID-19 has given us all a wake-up call of the immediate and long-term risks of being overweight. We will be urging the public to use this moment to take stock of how they live their lives, and to take simple steps to lose weight, live healthier lives, and reduce pressure on the [state-funded National Health Service] NHS,” said a government spokesperson.