15/05/20 – Prime Minister announces new ‘interventionist’ approach to tackle obesity – Helen clark writes

Following his own serious brush with COVID-19, the Prime Minister is said to have demanded a new serious approach to tackling obesity. ‘The Times’ has the story on its front page.

The policy shift comes as:

‘Research has found that being obese doubles the risk of needing hospital treatment for coronavirus. About one in three British adults is clinically obese, classified as those with a body mass index (BMI) above 30. It is one of the highest rates in the western world. Mr Johnson is understood to be convinced that the reason he ended up in intensive care was because of his weight, which was 17 and a half stone before he was admitted to hospital. BMI is determined by a person’s weight relative to their height. At 5ft 9in, Mr Johnson’s score will have been about 36.’


Helen Clark, Lead Author for the APPG said:

Obesity has emerged as a major factor in the very worst COVID-19 outcomes and we certainly welcome this new resolve from Boris Johnson. Obesity has also been identified as a major factor in propensity to diabetes type 2, some cancers, stroke and heart disease but although overweight and obese adults like Mr Johnson should change their diet and nutrition patterns, we must remember that, as the saying goes:

‘The child is father to the man.’

Obesity is not something you simply ‘catch’ as an adult – it begins from very early in childhood – indeed at the ante-natal stage and before even then. As our Co Chair, Baroness Benjamin has said:

‘Childhood lasts a lifetime.’

If we are to build upon successes such as the sugar tax and create a fitter and healthier adult society, we must begin at the very start of the life cycle.

The APPG on A Fit and Healthy Childhood has written numerous reports dealing with this serious subject; including our own report in which we assess of Prime Minister Theresa May’s 2016 ‘Child Obesity Strategy.’ It is now high time that Stage Three of that Strategy was published and we call upon Boris Johnson to be as good as his word and make it number one on his ‘to do’ list.

As an APPG, we hope to return to our own consideration of policy measures that the Prime Minister might consider as he gets to grips with his new approach.

In the meantime, we thank him for a most welcome change of heart; often personal experience is the best teacher of all!

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