A new package of measures and a 'Better Health' campaign have been announced to help people lose weight amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
These measures include a an on TV and online adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt before 9pm; and end to deals like ‘buy one get one free’ on unhealthy food high in salt, sugar and fat; and calories are to be displayed on menus to help people make healthier choices when eating out – while alcoholic drinks could soon have to list hidden ‘liquid calories’.
‘Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier,’ said Prime Minister Boris Johnson. ‘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.’
According to the Government, 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 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.
‘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,’ said Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.
‘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.’