Weight-loss drive to be launched in anticipation of second coronavirus wave

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The government is expected to introduce a weight-loss campaign across the UK in an attempt to make the country better prepared for a possible second wave of coronavirus.

The drive, described as a “war against obesity”, comes after studies have shown that Covid-19 disproportionately affects overweight people and after Boris Johnson reportedly blamed the severity of his coronavirus symptoms on his weight.

Government officials have therefore been discussing how to encourage people to lose weight before a potential spike in coronavirus cases this autumn, according to The Guardian.

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Data from Public Health England shows that almost two-thirds of adults are classified as being overweight or obese when measured by the body mass index (BMI) metric.

Speaking about the new proposals, one government official, who wished to remain anonymous, told the newspaper: “There’s two paces to this. The first needs to be nutrition-focused, getting people’s BMIs down over the next three or four months, using what works. And then we can start thinking in the longer term. But for now it’s about getting people as ready for the next wave as we can.”

However, the government has yet to give many specifics on its approach to tackling obesity.

One measure that Downing Street could introduce is to force supermarkets to stop offering discount deals on unhealthy products such as sweets and chocolate.

Health groups are also calling for junk-food advertising to be banned before 9pm, but Mr Johnson is thought to be unsure about such a proposal.

Referring to the UK’s obesity problem, the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who chairs the Commons health and social care committee, said that healthy food must be made better value for money.

Mr Hunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Very often the cheapest food in supermarkets is the least healthy food – frozen pizza and so on.

“You’ve got to find a way somehow of making healthier food better value for money, relative to some of the really cheap frozen stuff.”

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Citing examples like Mars bars getting smaller, he added that politicians should work with the food industry to reduce portion sizes, claiming “these things do actually make a difference”.

Last month, researchers at Queen Mary University of London wrote in the British Medical Journal that the food industry should be held partly accountable “not only for the obesity pandemic but also for the severity of Covid-19 disease and its devastating consequences”.

Additional reporting from Press Association

This content was originally published here.

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