Boris Johnson. (REUTERS/Toby Melville - /File Photo)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Britain to lose “a little bit of weight” on Monday, using his own struggle with his weight before he contracted the novel coronavirus to encourage people to take more exercise.

His government unveiled a “Better Health” campaign on Monday, saying it would tackle the “obesity time bomb” by banning advertising of junk food before 9.00 p.m., ending “buy one get one free” deals and putting calories on menus.

“I’ve always wanted to lose weight for ages and ages and like many people I struggle with my weight, I go up and down. But since I recovered from coronavirus I have been steadily building up my fitness,” he said in a video clip on Twitter.

“I’m at least a stone down, I’m more than a stone down but when I went into ICU (intensive care) when I was really ill, I was way over weight … and, you know, I was too fat,” he said, adding that he hoped the new campaign was not “excessively bossy or nannying”.

The Better Health campaign is one of a raft of measures that have been revealed as part of the government’s new obesity strategy.

The campaign encourages adults to introduce changes that will help them work towards a healthier weight.

The current evidence does not suggest that having excess weight increases people’s chances of contracting Covid-19 but data shows that obese people are significantly more likely to become seriously ill and be admitted to intensive care with the disease compared to those with a healthy BMI.

Public Health England’s Professor Kevin Fenton said: “Covid-19 has given us a wake-up call to get our health back on track. We know how hard it can be to lose weight and keep it off – our Better Health campaign aims to make it easier for everyone to introduce changes that will help them maintain a healthy weight. It’s never too late, or too early, to make changes that will have a lasting impact on your health.”

The government said the campaign will specifically target areas and groups that are most affected by obesity and excess weight.

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