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Sunday, Jun 13, 2021

'War on obesity is one good thing to come out of terrible Covid experience'

'War on obesity is one good thing to come out of terrible Covid experience'

I'm all for Boris Johnson's fight against junk food and sugary drinks, says the Mirror's Fiona Phillips

There is just the one positive aspect of the horrendous Covid-19 pandemic, amid the many unspeakable tragedies.

“Really?”, you say? A positive outcome of the Covid horror?
Yes, really.

Why? Because, early on, it chose to plant itself in the Prime Minister’s overweight body, as a result of which Boris had a brush with death and ended up in intensive care.

I am certainly not celebrating this fact, but the PM clearly saw his ordeal as a warning, which is why, it seems, he launched a war on obesity.

His proposed new plan is to force restaurants and takeaways to list the number of calories in food and soft drinks in the hope it will make people think twice before ordering.

The thinking being that they might subsequently lose weight, which will, ­hopefully, result in fewer people burdening GPs and hospitals.

Yes! After years of politicians and advisers mumbling on about a plan to cut obesity levels, then promising several but failing to act on even one, it seems it’s taken a deadly virus to sharpen them all into action.

The Prime Minister has also proposed to plonk a ban on all junk-food advertising before the 9pm watershed (how many times have we heard that before?) and is mulling over proposals to launch the ban online too. This is almost verging on beyond the call of duty territory, something Boris has rarely been accused of.

So, at the end of this horrific period, the Prime Minister’s coronavirus experience could well end up being a life-saver for those partial to high-calorie food.

Oh, and while I’m at it, what about calorie-loaded drinks, such as Monster Energy? Beloved of teens and night owls, and packed full of sugar which gives it the ‘energy’, it’s actually nothing more than a can of sugary liquid calories – 237 of the ­beauties in a single 500ml tin, largely down to the huge 55g of sugar in each helping.

And Ribena? One of the UK’s favourite soft drinks, apparently full of blackcurrants, but also high in sugar and energy, with around 104 calories in a 500ml bottle and 23g of sugar, which is more than two-thirds of the recommended daily sugar intake for an adult.

It was a childhood favourite in our house, one in which the only wars were the regular scuffles that broke out when my brother clearly had a bigger glass than me. I wouldn’t have fought so hard then, though, if I’d known that a glass contained so much sugar.

Hopefully, then, Boris’s scary brush with Covid-19 and his subsequent efforts to lose weight and to spread the message, will help others to shed the pounds too.

Of course, it will never make up for the physical and mental horrors left behind by this deadly virus, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

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