Running in the morning and ditching ‘late night cheese’ have been the secrets to Boris Johnson’s weight loss, the PM revealed today in a candid Twitter video posted to promote the Government’s anti-obesity drive.
Mr Johnson, 56, famously admitted ‘I was too fat’ after a Covid scare that saw him taken into intensive care when he was hospitalised with the virus last spring.
Since then, the Prime Minister – who is regularly pictured out running in London – says he has lost ‘quite a lot’ of weight by cutting down on carbs, chocolate and cheese and exercising regularly.
Boasting that he now feels ‘full of beans’, Mr Johnson said he wants to help hundreds of thousands of Brits shed the pounds and that the NHS will offer more support for families wanting to keep their waistlines in check.
The PM claimed to have lost a stone in the summer of 2020 after being shaken by his crippling bout of Covid-19, and has admitted to weighing 16.5stone (105kg) in 2018 when he was Foreign Secretary. He said at the time that he was partial to ‘late night binges of chorizo and cheese’ but had been shamed into cutting back by his doctor.
Mr Johnson has since launched a Downing St drive to crack down on obesity, with damning two in every three adults in the UK are overweight. Measures expected to come into force include a ban on junk food advertising before 9pm, to protect children, and mandatory calorie labelling on restaurant menus.
Today the Government announced it would pump money into NHS-led schemes to help people of all ages lose weight, particularly targeting children and people living in poorer areas.
The initiative — unveiled on World Obesity Day — will see more than 700,000 people prescribed diet plans and given weight loss classes to help them lose weight.
An NHS app may even reward users with free flights and cruises if they exercise or cut calories under plans to tackle the nation’s obesity crisis. No10 has appointed Sir Keith Mills, founder of the Air Miles and Nectar loyalty schemes, to develop the new ‘Fit Miles’ programme.
‘Losing weight is hard, but making small changes can make a big difference,’ Mr Johnson said.
Boris Johnson reportedly weighed 16.5stone (105kg) in 2018 (pictured left) but says he has been exercising and eating healthily since he developed severe Covid-19 last year and had to be admitted to intensive care with the disease. Pictured right, Mr Johnson yesterday, March 4 – the PM said he now feels ‘much more energetic, full of beans’
Mr Johnson credits his regular exercise – he is often pictured running in the morning – with helping him to lose ‘quite a lot’ of weight
In his Twitter video, filmed in selfie mode as he walked around his home on Downing Street, the Prime Minister said: ‘I’ve been doing a lot, in fact everything I can, to lose weight and to feel fitter and healthier.
‘What I’ve been doing is I’ve been eating less carbs, avoiding chocolate, no more late night cheese – all that kind of thing.
‘I’ve been getting up early to go for runs and the result is, you know, I actually have lost some weight – quite a lot by my standards. And I feel much more energetic, I feel full of beans and I thoroughly, thoroughly recommend it.
‘I know there are many people who are in the same sort of position as I am, and I was, and who want to lose weight.
‘And that’s why we’re investing now, in that whole national objective, £100million to help people to access GP appointments, to get the right apps that they need to help them to lose weight, and we’re also looking at various fit-miles schemes as well.
‘What we want to do is to encourage another 700,000 people around the country who have the same problems that I have had to do the same thing.
‘So we’ll be not just fitter, but also healthier and happier, and we’ll bounce back better together.’
Mr Johnson was in a high-risk group for Covid-19 when he caught the disease in April last year, because his BMI was around 34, making him obese.
WHAT IS NO. 10 DOING TO HELP BRITS GET SLIMMER?
These are some of the anti-obesity policies confirmed or considered by the Government in the past year:
- Ban on junk food advertising before 9pm
- Restrictions on online advertising for unhealthy food
- Mandatory calorie labelling on restaurant menus
- GP appointments for weight management services
- Funding for NHS app to help people track exercise and meals
- Extra training for children’s medics to help them prevent obesity in youth
- Prescribing weight loss diets, including diabetes-beating plan limiting people to 3x 400kcal meals
- Shops will be prevented from BOGOF deals on junk food, and from putting treats near the checkouts
He was 16stone and 7lbs (105kg), The Times reported, and is approximately 5′ 7″ tall (175cm), meaning he was far too heavy for his weight.
The NHS considers a BMI of 25 or higher to be overweight and 30 or higher to be obese. 18.5 to 25 is a healthy range.
No 10 has today announced that GPs will prescribe more than 700,000 people with diet plans, apps and wearable activity trackers in an anti-obesity drive.
Ministers said they are committed to slimming the country’s waistlines as a major study has revealed a high obesity rate may behind its devastating Covid death toll and need for crippling lockdowns.
Research by the World Obesity Federation found that coronavirus deaths have been 10 times higher in countries where over half of adults are overweight, and they have accounted for a staggering 90 per cent of global deaths.
Thousands of lives could have been saved if the population was slimmer, experts said, and the lockdowns would not have need to be as drastic if people were not as fat and had a lower risk of ending up in hospital.
The World Health Organization warned the finding was a ‘wake-up call’ for the West, where sedentary jobs and processed foods mean being overweight has become the norm for many.
Downing Street said it would pump money into NHS-led schemes to help people of all ages lose weight, particularly targeting children and people living in poorer areas.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘Losing weight is hard, but making small changes can make a big difference.
‘Being overweight increases the risk of becoming ill with Covid. If we all do our bit, we can reduce our own health risks – but also help take pressure off the NHS.’
A study by the World Obesity Federation found that the vast majority of Covid-19 deaths have happened in countries where more than half the population is overweight. Fat countries in the West, including the UK, US and Italy, all saw devastatingly high death tolls, while nations with lower obesity rates – on the whole – had much fewer fatalities
WHY DOES BEING OVERWEIGHT MAKE COVID WORSE?
People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop severe Covid-19 and die from it because they are generally less healthy and have worse immune systems.
The coronavirus has been found to prey on people who don’t have good health – it causes fluid build-up in the lungs, blood clotting, swelling in the airways and blood vessels, intense fever and can trigger immune over-reaction. All of these can seriously damage vital organs.
Overweight people are more likely to suffer severe versions of these effects because their bodies are already struggling to cope as a result of the strain of carrying excess fat, hormonal and chemical changes trigged by obesity, and higher rates of long-term illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure.
Fat in the belly pushes up on the diaphragm – the breathing muscle – and compresses the lungs, making them weaker and less able to chuck out the viruses when they get in, Science magazine explains.
Blood is also more likely to clot because vessels are damaged and don’t work properly, partly because of constant swelling and irritation caused by chemicals released by fat. One researcher told Science obese people with Covid had ‘the stickiest blood I have ever seen’. These clots then travel to the lungs and other organs and can be deadly.
The immune system is also weaker in overweight people because fat cells intrude on organs that would normally make white blood cells, such as the bone marrow, meaning their capacity to work as normal is reduced. This means it takes longer to fight off the virus, if the body is able to do it at all.
And any organ dysfunction, such as that caused by heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or dementia, has been found to make Covid-19 worse as it preys on damaged parts of the body and worsens existing problems. All of these are reported to be more common in obese people.
The report, which compared countries’ obesity rates and Covid death tolls, found that the coronavirus death rate was 10 times higher in countries where 50 per cent or more of the population is overweight.
It saw that 2.2million of the world’s 2.5million deaths so far had happened in countries with these high obesity rates.
‘Increased bodyweight is the second greatest predictor of hospitalisation and a high risk of death for people suffering from Covid-19,’ the report said.
‘Only old age rates as a higher risk factor. The unprecedented economic costs of Covid-19 are largely due to the measures taken to avoid the excess hospitalisation and need for treatment of the disease.
‘Reducing one major risk factor, overweight, would have resulted in far less stress on health services and reduced the need to protect those services from being overwhelmed.’
UK PM Boris Johnson performed an about-turn on his obesity policies after a near-fatal brush with Covid-19 early in 2020, and has now lost weight himself and says he is committed to helping the public do the same.
His new review will look overseas for inspiration, such as at the national step challenge in Singapore, to which almost a quarter of the public signed up.
The PM said: ‘This funding will give extra support to people across the country who want to lose weight, too.’
But officials said it was too early to say whether the schemes, part of a £100million Government investment, could allow shoppers discounts on healthy foods.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘We want to make it easier for people to lose weight, which is why our funding set out today ensures those across all ages have the right level of support and tools they need to make healthier lifestyle choices.’
Author of the WOF report Dr Tim Lobstein, senior policy adviser to the World Obesity Federation and visiting professor at the University of Sydney, said: ‘We now know that an overweight population is the next pandemic waiting to happen.
‘Look at countries like Japan and South Korea where they have very low levels of Covid-19 deaths as well as very low levels of adult obesity.
‘They have prioritised public health across a range of measures, including population weight, and it has paid off in the pandemic.
‘Governments have been negligent and ignored the economic value of a healthy population at their peril.
‘For the last decade they have failed to tackle obesity, despite setting themselves targets at United Nations meetings.
‘Covid-19 is only the latest infection exacerbated by weight issues, but the warning signs were there. We have seen it in the past with Mers, H1N1 and other respiratory diseases.’