IF EVERY Brit lost 5lbs it could save the NHS £100 billion, Matt Hancock has claimed as the Prime Minister admitted he “I was too fat”.
The Health Secretary has today declared coronavirus a “deadly wake-up call” for Britain to finally deal with the obesity epidemic.
Mr Hancock explained being overweight put enormous pressure on the NHS, and getting fitter could boost the nation’s health and finances.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Hancock said: “This deadly virus has given us a wake-up call about the need to tackle the stark inequalities in our nation’s health, and obesity is an urgent example of this.
“If everyone who is overweight lost five pounds it could save the NHS more than £100million over the next five years. And more importantly, given the link between obesity and coronavirus, losing weight could be life-saving.
“Obesity is one of the greatest longterm health challenges that we face as a country.
“It not only puts a strain on our NHS and care system, but it also piles pressure on our bodies, making us more vulnerable to many diseases including, of course, coronavirus.”
It comes as the Government unveiled a new “Better Health” campaign run by Public Health England that calls on everyone to “embrace a healthier lifestyle”.
It will be supported by the NHS with more referrals to the likes of WeightWatchers.
This morning the Prime Minister backed the plans and admitted he had been overweight himself.
He said: “When I went into ICU, when I was really ill, I was way overweight.
“I’m only about 5 foot 10, and you know, at the outside and you know I was too fat.”
BoJo spent three nights in intensive care and has lost more than a stone, having previously hit 17st.
The PM put the transformation down to running, and told the nation they didn’t need gyms to get fit.
He said: “There are amazing things you get on your phones these days, amazing apps, fantastic trainers that you can watch on Youtube.
“If you can get your weight down a bit then, and protect your health then you’ll also be protecting the NHS.
“What we are doing now with our Better Health Strategy is just trying to help people a little bit to bring their weight down.”
Under the plans, GPs will prescribe exercise, such as cycling and gym classes, and patients will be given access to weight loss apps.
Staff in doctors’ surgeries will also be trained as “healthy weight coaches” to give people advice on how to stay trim.
Meanwhile, shops will be banned from offering Buy One Get One Free deals on junk food and placing treats near store entrances and tills.
Large restaurants, cafes and takeaways must put calorie labels on menus, so customers can make informed choices.
And adverts for food high in fat, sugar or salt will be axed from TV and websites before the 9pm watershed.
Ministers will consult on expanding this to cover all times of day and night.
Other consultations will be for calorie labels on alcohol and compulsory traffic light labelling on food packaging.
The details feature in the Government’s obesity strategy, which has been expanded to target adults as well as kids.
The document, published today, shows adults are eating 200 to 300 more calories a day than they need.