U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalized with the COVID-19 coronavirus earlier this year, and is now beginning a campaign to get the country in shape. In a recent statement, Johnson pointed to newly published data in a British government policy paper and said that there is now “consistent evidence” that being overweight puts you at a much higher risk of being hospitalized. This is an alarming fact considering that about two-thirds of adults in the country are overweight, and half of those considered overweight are in the obese category, which puts them at an even greater risk.
Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier.
If we all do our bit, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus – as well as taking pressure off the NHS.
— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) July 27, 2020
The UK is doing better than the United States with their pandemic response, but they are not far behind. The country has the world’s third-highest death toll from the virus with roughly 46,000 COVID-related deaths.
In a video posted to his official Twitter account announcing the campaign, the Prime Minister said:
When I went into ICU, when I was very ill, I was very… I was way overweight. I’m only about 5 foot 10, at the [most], and, you know, I was too fat.
The paper cited by Johnson also noted that the country could save up to $135 million in the next five years if all the overweight people in the country were to lose just 5 and a half pounds.
Johnson said the campaign would “help people a little bit to bring their weight down –– not in an excessively bossy or nannying way, I hope.”
This is a complete reversal of Johnson’s former stance on weight-related government campaigns. Before becoming prime minister, Johnson published several columns arguing against health policies implemented by previous governments. Johnson was also not very concerned about the virus until he caught it himself.
"Like many people, I struggle with my weight."As part of the Government's obesity strategy, Boris Johnson is urging people to take action to improve their health.Read more: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/27/boris-johnson-obesity-weight-loss-coronavirus/
Posted by The Telegraph on Monday, July 27, 2020
The Prime Minister had previously come under criticism for his proposed plan of allowing the virus to spread through the population as quickly as possible so people could develop “herd immunity.” However, this plan was quickly dropped following the backlash, when health officials determined that such measures would overwhelm the country’s healthcare system.
Johnson is not the only member of the UK government who caught the illness. Health Secretary Matt Hancock also revealed that he had tested positive for the virus, just after Johnson made his announcement. 71-year-old Prince Charles, of Wales, also tested positive for the coronavirus at the very start of the pandemic, but despite his age, representatives for the prince say that he is otherwise in good health.
Age is one of the primary factors that are said to be a major concern for coronavirus patients, but weight is surely next in line. Many of the people who were hospitalized or had their lives taken by the virus were either elderly, overweight, or had some type of underlying health condition like diabetes. Another factor that many people don’t think much about is smoking, which can limit a person’s lung capacity and make them less prepared for the respiratory symptoms of COVID. Researchers now believe that the respiratory symptoms are merely one piece of the puzzle, as patients are now suffering from a variety of symptoms.