A recent Public Health England study has revealed that people who are overweight are 40 per cent more likely to die from COVID19. This confirms the link between obesity and coronavirus and has led the PM to launch an anti-obesity campaign. Having contracted the virus in April, Boris Johnson said that he had been “way overweight” at the time. Since then, pictures of him walking his dog and jogging have appeared in various newspapers. Among the measures, the government is considering, is a ban on adverts for junk food before 9 pm as well as clearing supermarket checkouts from sweets and fatty foods. The “Better Health” campaign is to encourage British people to lose excess pounds and thus protect the NHS. Although the Prime Minister had, in the past, been reluctant to introduce nanny-type state intervention, his experience with COVID19 has led to a change of mind:
“I’m not normally a believer in nannying, or bossing type of politics. But the reality is that obesity is one of the real co-morbidity factors.
“Losing weight is, frankly, one of the ways that you can reduce your own risks from Covid.”
Obesity and coronavirus – Public Health England indicates death risks rise in tandem with BMI
The report combines studies from the UK, and beyond to determine whether obesity increases the impact of coronavirus. Although more research is necessary, indications that excess weight is a major factor when it comes to the severity of COVID19 infections are strong.
In the UK, over half of all adults are overweight with 55-74 year-olds and members of the BAME communities affected more severely. As carrying excess pounds also heightens the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, respiratory or cardiovascular disease, the study underpinned the belief that obesity also increases the severity of coronavirus infection.
Study key findings include that people who are overweight and contract coronavirus are more likely to require hospitalisation and admission to ICU. The risk of death is also greater although other factors such as age, sex, and ethnicity also play a significant role.
Better Health – new NHS drive to encourage weight loss
The government is planning to spend £10m to tackle obesity among UK citizens. Apart from providing information and weight-loss tools on the NHS website “Better Health“, the government is striving to reduce what experts consider “the single most important modifiable risk factor” when it comes to coronavirus in anticipation of a possible second wave of infections.
Speaking to the BBC, Boris Johnson said:
“And – and here’s the key thing, if we’re fitter and healthier, and if we lose weight, we’ll be better able not just to individually withstand coronavirus, but we’ll do a great deal to protect the NHS. And that’s why we’ll be bringing forward an obesity strategy.”
Health campaigners and experts have welcomed the government’s plans which will also see the banning of certain types of advertisements and special offers encouraging consumption of junk food. Moreover, the government may compel producers and sellers of alcoholic beverage to publish the calorie count.