As part of its campaign to address the country’s obesity problem, the U.K. government has recently unveiled its plan to regulate the production and promotion of unhealthy meals. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who fell ill due to COVID-19 disease, said that the campaign would “reduce health risks and protect ourselves from coronavirus.”
Raised by the Public Health England, the “Better Health” campaign aims to encourage people to stay fit and healthy after a four-month-long lockdown. The $12 million campaign includes measures that will ban advertisements for junk food on TV as well as online.
According to Johnson, ads will stop running before the 9:00 pm watershed in the U.K. The government is also debating whether to prohibit ads of food containing high amounts of fat, sugar, and salt or HFSS products.
As the Prime Minister experienced the coronavirus first-hand, his recent actions suggest a change in his stance about the negative impact of HFSS products on a person’s well-being.
“We all put things off, I know I have. I have wanted to lose weight for ages, and, like many people, I struggle with my weight […] when I got it too (coronavirus), I realized how important it is not to be overweight,” the PM told the Daily Press.
Aside from banning ads, the campaign also includes measures that will prohibit “buy one get one free” deals of HFSS meals and, at the same time, restricts where the said type of product can be promoted in stores. With that, it will likely remove snacks like crisps and chocolates from checkouts.
For restaurants and cafes, employers with more than 250 employees are required to label the amounts of calories their meals contain. For alcoholic drinks, the U.K. government is looking to apply the same measure.
The campaign was raised to address the growing number of evidence that links obesity and the risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.
In a news posted by the BBC, it is said that Public Health England has found that people suffering from obesity are at higher risk of developing severe coronavirus infections. The chief nutritionist at Public Health England Dr. Alison Tedstone said that the evidence is clear with obesity as coronavirus comorbidity.
“Losing weight can bring huge benefits for health. And it may also help protect against the health risks of Covid-19,” she said.
As per the U.K. government’s data, it also shows that almost 8% of critically ill COVID-19 patients are overweight, citing obesity as a “time bomb.”
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