Today, Boris Johnson will set out his strategy to tackle obesity in the UK. Some of the plans include a 12-week programme for people to lose weight and GPs prescribing cycling. It comes after Public Health England research found that being overweight or obese puts people at greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.
Currently, ministers estimate that about two-thirds of adults in the UK are overweight.
It is not yet clear how much money will be dedicated to the new war on fat.
Mr Johnson has admitted that his weight was a factor in how badly he suffered from coronavirus.
A Government spokesperson said: “COVID-19 has given us all a wake-up call [on] the immediate and long-term risks of being overweight, and the prime minister is clear we must use this moment to get healthier, more active and eat better.
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“We will be urging the public to use this moment to take stock of how they live their lives, and to take simple steps to lose weight, live healthier lives, and reduce pressure on the NHS.”
Friends of Mr Johnson say he has changed his previously “non-interventionist” views on the role a state should play in encouraging people to avoid fattening food and drink.
Because of this, he is also expected to announce a ban on TV “junk food” advertisements before 9pm, and possibly a ban on online promotion for unhealthy foods.
Limits on in-store promotions and 2-4-1 deals have also been proposed.
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It is a far cry from Mr Johnson’s previous “nanny state” averse ideology.
In 2007, just under a year before he became the mayor of London, Mr Johnson wrote a column for The Daily Telegraph in reaction to the proposition to place health warning labels on wine bottles by the Labour Party.
He launched into a stinging attack and, describing the move as issuing “a new label on every bottle of wine and every other alcoholic beverage, with a load of baloney about the risks to unborn children (not very great, frankly), the need to drink ‘responsibly’, the websites of various ‘drink awareness’ organisations, and a load of bunkum about the piffling number of ‘units’ the Government thinks a man and a woman can drink ‘responsibly’ every week”.
He went as far as to disgrace the junior minister who invented and pushed the project, Caroline Flint.
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After describing the historical significance of wine drinking in Britain and the Roman Empire, Mr Johnson said: “In all that time, no government in history has yet thought the people so moronic that they needed to be told, on the bottle, that wine could go to your head; and Flint’s proposed act of desecration is all the more shameful and baffling when you consider – in your state of agreeable post-prandial rapture – that a bottle of wine is really a thing of quiet beauty.
“Does she really imagine that her ghastly ‘message’ will make a fluid ounce of difference to the total quantity of alcohol consumed by the British people?
“Will it remove a single splash of vomit from our pavements? Will it deter a single bladdered ladette from hoisting another one away?
“Of course not. It will simply add to the costs of the wine producers and bottlers; the gummy Flintolabels will make wine bottles more expensive to recycle, and apart from anything else, I can’t see how a British-only system of health warnings on alcoholic beverages can be in conformity with the principles of the EU single market.”
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He suggests Ms Flint might face legal repercussions as a result of her labels, and proposed the real reason for the health warnings.
He said: “She is a junior minister anxious to make a name for herself, and she has seen that there could be no more powerful way of asserting her own existence than stamping her mark, like the signature of Baron Philippe de Rothschild, on every bottle we buy. It is all about Caroline Flint, and it has very little to do with the drinkers of Britain and their problems.”
He urged wine enthusiasts and Parliament to “fight, fight, fight, fight against these insulting, ugly and otiose labels.”
Adding that Ms Flint should be obliged to take her plans to “Parliament, so we can fight for common sense against the tide of infantilising elf and safety madness, and when we have won we can help her to drown her sorrows in the time-honoured British way – and our potations will be equally responsible, or irresponsible, whatever it says on the label”.
Boris Johnson latest: The PM previously condemned health warning labels on bottles of wine
The labels were later approved of and placed on bottles and cans.
At the time, Ms Flint said: “This landmark, voluntary agreement will help people calculate, at a glance, how much they are drinking and whether they are staying within sensible drinking guidelines.
“This is about helping people to make the right choices.”