« Since I recovered from the coronavirus, I have gradually improved my physical shape. I start my day by going for a run with my dog Boris Johnson said. It is through a video, posted on Twitter, that the British Prime Minister launched Monday, July 27 his great plan to fight against overweight. The campaign, entitled ” In better health “, Aims to fight” against the time bomb that is obesity »According to the British health authorities; it follows a study citing obesity as an aggravating factor for the coronavirus. Obese people would indeed present a 40% additional risk of dying from Covid-19.
A figure that worries in this country where nearly two-thirds of adults are over a weight considered healthy – including 36% overweight and 28% obesity – a figure that has been rising steadily since 1993 (52.9%) . For comparison, in France, according to Inserm, approximately 17% of the adult population is in a situation of obesity.
Several measures were announced within this plan, which would target around 35 million people in the country. Any advertising of “junk food”, on television and online, is prohibited before 9 pm. Restaurants and takeout chains will have to make public the number of calories in their menus. Supermarkets will have to end promotions on unhealthy food and will be prohibited from placing sweets in key locations of their stores, near checkouts for example. Finally, an application with a 12-week fitness program is made available to the population. General practitioners are encouraged to prescribe physical exercise to their patients. Pilot projects to prescribe cycling sessions will be set up.
Boris Johnson’s government has not announced a specific budget, but the British newspaper The Guardian estimated the cost of this plan to be around 10 million pounds (11 million euros). By improving the health of the population, and therefore their capacity to resist disease, the British authorities also intend to reduce the pressure on the public health system, the National Heath Service (NHS). Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health, wrote in The Telegraph : « If each overweight person lost 2 kg, the NHS could save 100 million pounds (109 million euros) over five years. »
However, even if this vast plan to fight against overweight offers innovative initiatives, many associations deplore that the government does not go further. “These proposals will not solve the heart of the problem, we must tackle the deeper causes”, explains Jean Adams, lecturer in public health at the University of Cambridge. The main problem being the difficulty of access to a balanced diet according to the researcher: “ In the UK, only those who can afford it can access healthy food. “
According to a report from the House of Lords, healthy food in the country is indeed three times more expensive than bad, for equivalent calories. The poorer sections of the population therefore tend to fall back on cheaper, less healthy food. Choices that can also be explained by “A lack of education on balanced food, cooking skills, accessibility to household equipment” and food « more and more processed, very high in salt and sugar », observes Aisling Pigott, spokesperson for the Association of British Dieticians. In addition, according to the House of Lords report, there is a proliferation of fast food restaurants in the poorest neighborhoods.
Thus, according to data from the British authorities, in the less affluent regions, the number of overweight people is 11 percentage points higher than in other regions. Faced with this correlation, several associations deplore that socio-economic factors such as poverty are not integrated in the plan proposed by Boris Johnson, even though they directly influence the way of life.