Coronavirus prompts PM into obesity crackdown


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The prime minister is about to announce new measures to curb weight problems subsequent week, and they’re anticipated to incorporate a ban on TV junk meals adverts earlier than 21:00.

It comes amid rising proof people who find themselves obese or overweight are at higher danger from coronavirus.

The measures are but to be finalised however are additionally prone to embrace a ban on on-line adverts for unhealthy meals, and limits on in-store promotions.

One meals trade chief mentioned it was a “slap within the face”.

The transfer marks a change in stance by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has beforehand criticised levies on meals excessive in salt, fats and sugar – and described his views on tackling weight problems as “libertarian”.

Mr Johnson’s expertise in intensive care throughout his therapy for Covid-19 is assumed to have contributed to his altering place.

Talking throughout a go to to a GP surgical procedure in east London, he mentioned that whereas he was not usually one for “nannying or bossying”, the nation did must shed pounds to guard from a second spike.

He mentioned: “Weight problems is among the actual co-morbidity components. Dropping pounds, frankly, is among the methods you’ll be able to cut back your personal danger from coronavirus.”


Weight problems methods have had a chequered latest historical past.

David Cameron, backed by NHS leaders, was all set to unveil wide-ranging curbs on meals advertising and promoting in England in the summertime of 2016. Then he abruptly left workplace and his successor Theresa Could watered down or ditched many of the concepts.

Two years later she had modified her view, and her Well being Secretary Jeremy Hunt introduced plans to ban quick meals promoting earlier than the 21:00 TV watershed and stop supermarkets from selling unhealthy meals merchandise in shops.

These plans had been put out to session however had been left in limbo when Boris Johnson arrived in Downing Avenue a 12 months in the past.

His feedback in regards to the “persevering with creep of the nanny state” and the necessity for a evaluation of “sin taxes” had been taken to imply he was towards additional intervention on individuals’s weight loss plan selections.

However he has shifted, and many of the 2018 plan now appears set to be applied.

It might have been enacted by now however, regardless of the timing, the measures – together with sweeping modifications to the best way meals is marketed, are a big transfer to sort out one of many largest well being challenges of our instances.


Ministers are nonetheless finalising the element of some anti-obesity measures, corresponding to whether or not to require extra distinguished labelling of meals and drinks with excessive ranges of sugar or salt.

Some eating places may very well be required to place calorie labels on menus.

Proposals put ahead, however not enacted, by Mr Johnson’s predecessor Mrs Could are prone to be revived.

She consulted on whether or not to ban TV adverts for meals which can be excessive in fats, salt or sugar throughout household viewing hours – and whether or not to limit internet marketing.

It’s thought Mr Johnson is prone to push forward with promoting restrictions, and is contemplating banning in-store promotions of unhealthy meals.

Tim Rycroft, chief working officer of the Meals and Drink Federation, mentioned the rumoured transfer was a “slap within the face” to the meals trade, which he mentioned had labored “heroically” to maintain the nation fed throughout the pandemic.

“It will ban promotions of meals 10 days earlier than the chancellor launches the largest meals promotion the nation has ever seen,” he advised Right now. “It will put huge prices on the promoting trade and on broadcasters at a time when the financial system is in fairly a tenuous state of affairs.”

A letter from the Institute of Practitioners in Promoting despatched to the prime minister mentioned a authorities impression evaluation final 12 months confirmed a 21:00 watershed on excessive fats, sugar and salt meals and drinks would solely take away round 1.7 energy per day from a baby’s weight loss plan – the equal of half a Smartie.

Within the letter, director basic Paul Bainsfair wrote: “The introduction of such a draconian measure right now might have deep repercussions for companies and the promoting sector, usually, when it comes to jobs and artistic output, for little or no finish outcome.”

Recreation changer

Well being and Social Care Minister Helen Whately advised BBC Breakfast an announcement was due “imminently”. She mentioned she recognised weight problems was “probably the best well being problem” the nation confronted – “significantly with Covid”.

Tam Fry, chairman of the Nationwide Weight problems Discussion board, advised BBC Radio 4’s Right now programme he believed the prime minister’s expertise in St Thomas’s hospital had been a “recreation changer” and that it was understood the intention was to get individuals to shed pounds “previous to the subsequent spike”.

He mentioned: “There hasn’t been a ban like this however it’s got to be given a attempt – and if after a time frame it’s proven to not be so efficient, then possibly it can cease.

“It’s certainly a danger however the issue is that the consequence of weight problems is so nice that dangers and daring measures should be put in place.”

He referred to as for the sugar tax on smooth drinks to be prolonged to different merchandise.

The NHS says most adults with a physique mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 are obese, whereas these with a BMI of 30 to 39.9 are classed as overweight. One other measure of extra fats is waist dimension – males with a waist of 94cm or extra and girls with a waist of 80cm or extra usually tend to develop obesity-related issues.


Do you battle together with your weight? What would allow you to to resolve this problem? Are there any experiences you’d prefer to share? E-mail .

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