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UK launches weight loss campaign to help fight Covid-19

Credit: Belga

A new plan from the UK government is taking aim at obesity in the country in the face of evidence that excess weight increases the risk of catching Covid-19.

The £10 million ‘Better Health’ campaign, launched on Monday, was promoted by Prime Minister Boris Johnston, who spoke out about his own struggles with weight over the years. In a video posted on Twitter, Johnson spoke about his weight struggle, morning runs, and connecting his weight loss aim with his recovery from Covid-19.

“When I went into the ICU, when I was very ill, I was way overweight,” Johnson said. “What we are doing now with our Better Health Strategy is just trying to help people a little bit to bring their weight down. Not in an excessively bossy or nannying way, I hope.”

Johnson added that by collectively losing weight, UK citizens would also aid in “protecting the NHS” (National Health Service).

Increased Risk

According to a government study, scientists believe that excess weight increases the risk of contracting Covid-19, while it “may be one of the few modifiable risk factors for COVID-19” where intervention is effective.

The UK government fears that many citizens may have lost sight of healthy eating habits during the lockdown, while excess weight increases the chances of needing hospitalisation and medical care, and puts people at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19.

Targeted Campaigning

The campaign will have a special focus on people with minority ethnic backgrounds, since these groups have seen an increased death rate during the pandemic, The Guardian reports.

The UK government will also be banning  “TV and online adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt before 9pm”, and Buy-One-Get-One-Free deals for unhealthy foods in supermarkets. Menus in the food service industry will soon be required to include information on calories per meal and per (alcoholic) beverage, as the latter often contain ‘hidden’ calories.

In addition to a broad range of commercials to promote weight loss, the NHS offers several discounts to weight loss programmes, has developed a free dieting app and promotes a special programme for those suffering from diabetes.

Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times