Prime Minister of Britain Boris Johnson’s message to the nation is if you want to beat covid19 you need to lose weight. The Prime minister has officially launched the government’s efforts to control the levels of obesity in the UK. The new measures will see a complete ban on advertisements for junk food, however, the tax on sugary drinks and other foods will not be increased.
According to Johnson, the government proposal was designed to try to help people to bring their weight down and he hopes that this step is not seen as a bossy one. He further added that the government wants this proposal to be sympathetic towards people and to understand the difficulties people face with their weight as well as the struggles they face while trying to lose it.
Johnson said that he managed to lose weight by going to a walk with this dog Dilyn every morning. Obesity not only increases the risk of covid19 but the other reason he is encouraging people to become active is that obesity in the UK is costing billions of pounds to the NHS. Many scientific studies and national health bodies have suggested that there is a link between obesity and becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus. Almost 8 percent of patients in the UK who are critically ill with covid19 and admitted in Intensive Care Units (ICU) are found to be morbidly obese as compared to 2,9% of the general population according to the UK government.
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Helen Whately, the junior health minister, while outlining the plans on Monday said that introducing the sugar tax for the government has been successful in prompting the manufacturers to make drinks with less sugar but there are no proposals to increase the tax. The government has announced that it will impose a ban on junk food ads and will decide on whether the ads for sweets should be banned too.
Other measures in the announcement include a ban on the sale of crisps, sweets, and chocolates at checkouts and also the calories should be displayed on menus in the pubs and restaurants including in the alcoholic drinks which make up nearly 10% of the calorie intake of the people who drink it, to control the levels of obesity in the UK. Health campaigners are of mixed view regarding this announcement.
When asked about the plan in an interview Whately said that obesity in the UK is a huge challenge as nearly 67% of the adults are overweight. According to her now is a good moment to introduce such a plan as people have changed their lifestyle over the lockdown period and she calls it a moment of reset in which people can think again.
Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock thinks that there is a strong link between the efforts to reduce obesity in the UK and reducing the stress on health services in case of a potential second wave of the virus. According to the health secretary if everyone overweight person manages to lose only five pounds it could save the NHS over 100 million pounds over the course of the next five years. He further added that one of the biggest priorities of the UK government over the next few months is to take serious action to control obesity.
These announcements on obesity are certainly not new as the former Prime Minister of UK David Cameron’s government briefed that an ambitious strategy on obesity, which contained many of the same measures, was being planned. But as Theresa May took over it all changed. A much-changed plan was published during the summer in 2016 of which many measures were dropped but the sugar tax went ahead. However, in 2018 an updated plan was put forward which reemphasized the need for action.
Obesity and Overweight are the cause of a number of chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. It is becoming a major problem in countries with urban settings and the major causes of obesity are the consumption of alcohol and junk food. People need to eat healthy food to lose their weight and now the steps taken by the government will help them a lot.