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Irish Heart Foundation urges government to follow UK's lead and tackle obesity

The UK government today asked overweight people to lose five pounds to save the NHS money.

UK restaurants will be required to display calorie counts on menus.
UK restaurants will be required to display calorie counts on menus.
Image: Shutterstock/Darren Baker

THE GOVERNMENT HAS been urged by an Irish charity to follow the United Kingdom’s approach to tackling obesity announced earlier today.

It was reported that the UK government is asking overweight people to lose five pounds to save the NHS money and help lower the risk of dying due to Covid-19.

The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) said the government should follow the UK’s lead “through tough new action to tackle obesity that has been made more urgent than ever by evidence of a link to increased risk from Covid-19″. 

A document produced by HSE health professionals said there is “emerging evidence that obesity may be linked with Covid-19 disease severity”. 23% of adults in Ireland are obese, according to the HSE. 

In Italy, experience from anesthesiologists showed that obesity is the most frequent co-morbidity identified in Covid-19 patients admitted to ICU. 

Under new UK plans, restaurants will have to display calories on menus, ‘buy one get one free’ deals on unhealthy items are banned and TV ads for junk food are not permitted to air before 9pm. 

The IHF said the Irish government “should now look at going even further” than this through actions like mandatory reformulation of unhealthy food and drinks and extending the sugar tax on drinks to include confectionery goods.

“The more successful we are in limiting the impact of the virus the quicker we will be able to return to some sort of normality, so the case for decisive action on obesity has never been more compelling,” the IHF’s head of advocacy, Chris Macey, said in a statement.

Macey said measures such as the introduction of  ‘no fry zones’ and other related measures outlined in the Programme for Government should be “fast-tracked” in light of the evidence showing links between obesity and severe cases of Covid-19.

The PfG outlines that the government will introduce planning restrictions on places that sell high calorie junk food and drinks being located close to schools. 

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The British Health Secretary Matt Hancock, writing in the Telegraph today, set anybody classed as overweight a goal.

He said: “If everyone who is overweight lost five pounds it could save the NHS over £100 million over the next five years.

“And more importantly, given the link between obesity and coronavirus, losing weight could be lifesaving.”

With reporting by Press Association 

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