Derbyshire adults among the most obese in the East Midlands
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who says he struggles with his own weight – has announced a range of measures to help people shed the pounds, including a ban on some junk food promotions and stricter advertising controls.
It comes after a Public Health England (PHE) report found being overweight or obese can dramatically increase the risk of being admitted to hospital or dying from Covid-19.
Doctors, charities and campaign groups have welcomed the plans, but some say they don’t go far enough.
PHE figures show 66 per cent of adults in Derbyshire were classed as overweight or obese in 2018-19, the latest period for which data is available.
This was among the highest proportions in the region, where the average stood at 64 per cent.
It was also slightly higher than the England average of 62 per cent.
Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, board of science chairwoman at the British Medical Association, said obesity can have a ‘devastating’ impact on people’s health, including the increased risk from the coronavirus.
She added: “As the Government’s new strategy recognises, this has been a real wake-up call for the nation, and it’s imperative that we use this opportunity to make changes for good, not only for society today, but also for generations to come.”
Katharine Jenner, campaign director at charity Action on Sugar and Action on Salt, said: “We are delighted that the Government has finally recognised that these huge food and drink companies have not been acting in our best interests when they advertise and discount their heavily processed, high in fat, salt and sugar, food and drinks.”
But she said it was a ‘missed opportunity’ not to introduce mandatory targets on removing sugar and salt calories from products and that it was ‘absurd’ the soft drinks levy – a tax on soft drinks – was not extended to other sugary edibles.
Separate PHE figures show that 24 per cent of children aged four to five years old in Derbyshire were overweight or obese in the 2018-19 academic year.
The Prime Minister’s obesity strategy includes barring shops from pushing ‘buy one, get one free’ promotions on unhealthy products, ending junk food adverts on television and online before the 9pm watershed, forcing restaurants and takeaways with more than 250 employees to add calorie labels to menus and expanding NHS weight management services and its Diabetes Prevention Programme.
Mr Johnson said: “Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier.
“If we all do our bit, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus – as well as taking pressure off the NHS.”