We are taking action to get the nation’s health back on track

Obesity is one of the greatest long term 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.

The latest research shows that if you have a BMI of between 30 and 35 your risk of death from coronavirus goes up by at least a quarter.

And that nearly 8 per cent of critically ill patients with coronavirus in intensive care are morbidly obese compared at around 3 per cent of the country as a whole.

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.

We’ve already done lots of work on this front, like cutting sugar in soft drinks and giving extra support for the NHS work on diabetes.

But we know that we need to go further.

On Monday, we have publish a new strategy setting out clearly how we will tackle obesity in England.

Our whole principle is to support people to make the healthiest choices for themselves and their families, and help protect the NHS. 

So at its heart is better information: making sure everyone has the best possible information about the food that they enjoy, a big communications campaign about why obesity matters, and much more direct communication and support from your GP, who should see helping people tackle obesity in the same light as helping people tackle smoking.  

So we are making it mandatory for large businesses, like restaurants and takeaways, with over 250 employees, to make clear how many calories are in the food they sell.

This will help people take responsibility for their health, and make healthy choices when they are eating away from home.

We also know that what we see on TV, and promoted in shops and supermarkets, can have a big impact on the food that we buy. 

This is especially the case for children, where research shows that adverts can shape their preferences at a young age.

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