Britain was Europe’s fattest nation before the coronavirus crisis

Meanwhile, research has found that one third of all hospital deaths from coronavirus in England have been among diabetics – the vast majority of cases “type 2” disease, which is fuelled by obesity.

Public Health England has launched a review examining how obesity, along with gender, and ethnicity, can impact on health outcomes. Evidence has consistently shown that men are at far greater risk from Covid-19, with statistics suggesting they are twice as likely to die from it.

In this country, men aged 45 to 64 – Mr Johnson’s age group – are the most likely to be obese, with 36 per cent classed this way, loading the odds against them. 

Overall, 29 per cent of adults of all ages are obese, compared with an average of 19.5 in the latest international audit by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Analysis in 2017 revealed the UK as the fattest nation in Western Europe, with obesity rates twice those of countries like Sweden and Norway.

When it comes to Britain’s handling of coronavirus, comparisons are often made with Germany.

Both countries entered lockdown on March 23 – yet Britain’s death toll is now more than 36,000 – more than four times the 8,320 seen in Germany.

Differences between the two countries’ approaches are significant. Germany entered lockdown when just 86 fatalities had been recorded, compared with the 359 seen in the UK. It also embarked on mass testing, carrying out 50,000 tests a day when Britain could not manage this weekly. 

But there are also notable differences in the health of the respective populations, with latest records showing obesity rates of less than 24 per cent in Germany, compared with the 29 per cent seen in this country.

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