The government has revealed plans to ban ‘buy one get one free’ or BOGOF deals on unhealthy food in a bid to tackle obesity in England.
The Prime Minister recently unveiled the new strategy against obesity, as growing scientific evidence continues to point to a link between being overweight and an increased risk of harm from Covid-19.
Boris Johnson explained the intention of the plans were to "reduce our health risks andprotect ourselves against coronavirus.”
What is the link between obesity and coronavirus?
Statistics revealed by the government show nearly eight per cent of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units are morbidly obese, compared with just 2.9 per cent of the general population.
Public Health England (PHE) analysed existing studies to research the link between the coronavirus and obesity. The analysis revealed that body fat could be more vulnerable to infection, as it contains high quantities of a certain enzyme that coronavirus can easily attach itself to. Therefore having excess fat increases the chance for the virus to access cells in the body.
It has also been suggested that being overweight impacts the body’s respiratory function, blood and immunity, which are all crucial areas needed in the body’s fight against Covid-19.
What other plans did the Prime Minister reveal?
The move comes as a change in position on obesity by Johnson, who previously criticised taxes on unhealthy foods high in fat, sugar and salt, describing his stance on tackling obesity as a "libertarian" one.
Writing in the Daily Express, he explained how his experience with Covid-19 in intensive care has contributed to his change of mind, saying, “During the whole coronavirus epidemic and when I got it too, I realised how important it is not to be overweight."
In addition to a potential ban on BOGOF deals, the PM also revealed new rules on how unhealthy foods high in fat and sugar can be promoted in shops. Additionally, a new ban on junk food adverts before the watershed at 9pm has now been introduced for the entirety of the UK.
There will also be a consultation on whether to stop fast food adverts online altogether, along with a review of the traffic light nutrition labels on food and drinks sold in shops, and a consultation on whether to enforce calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks.
Another proposal focuses on whether or not menus in any restaurant, cafe or takeaway chain with more than 250 employees should provide clear calories next to their respective meals.