Boris Johnson is “leading by example” in the UK’s fight to lose weight, Minister for Care Helen Whately has told LBC.
Speaking with LBC’s Nick Ferrari on Monday morning, the Minister of State explained how the government was “supporting people” in making decisions that will help them shed the pounds.
It comes on the day the prime minister is set to reveal his “Better Health” campaign to tackle the country’s obesity problem, following his own brush with coronavirus.
Public Health England published a study on Saturday which revealed that being classed as medically obese increased someone’s risk of death from Covid-19 by 40 per cent.
Mr Johnson – who has previously criticised state-backed measures to tackle obesity – insisted the new “Better Health Strategy” would help people “not in an excessively bossy or nannying way.”
“We want this one really to be sympathetic to people, to understand the difficulties that people face with their weight, the struggles that everybody faces or many, many people face to lose weight, and just to be helpful,” he said.
Ms Whately told LBC the coronavirus pandemic is “a moment” for change in the UK’s fight against obesity.
She said: “Now is a moment where loads of people have changed the way they live their lives because of coronavirus and lockdown.
“It is a moment to take stock and many people want to. We’ve seen with Covid that your risks of getting seriously ill are much greater.”
Ms Whately was quizzed about whether the prime minister’s policy was an example of the ‘nanny state’ – an approach Mr Johnson has been critical of in the past.
When asked about a deadline for when the country will know if sufficient progress has been made in tackling obesity, Ms Whately would not be drawn on giving an answer.
She said: “What we are doing is we are supporting people to make the choices they want to make. Many people want to lose weight and this will help people.
“As you mentioned the prime minister, he is leading by example. He himself is already losing weight.”