The obesity link to serious Covid illness is a warning we need to heed

It’s in the news again: obesity. Prime minister Boris Johnson, himself the living proof topping out at 16 stone, is calling for action.

The Guardian newspaper highlights the numbers of people overweight: 40% of all men in England, but more women are obese than men, and an increase of 10% in both men and women since 1993.

The Guardian profiling of Boris Johnson’s own overweight admission and declaration to take measures to combat obesity follows on from the report published this month by Public Health England.

According to the report Excess Weight and Covid-19: Insights from new evidence, “Almost two-thirds of adults in England are living with excess weight for their height (BMI ≥25kg/m2), with similar figures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

The report provides “evidence on the links between weight status and Covid-19 outcomes”, but also places the link firmly in the context of how destructive overweight is on health. “Living with excess weight is a risk factor for a range of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, many cancers, liver and respiratory disease. Obesity is also associated with reduced life expectancy, and lower quality of life.”

Whilst there are overweight people due to medical conditions, and anorexics may take the government’s campaign to heart by eating even less, the overweight epidemic is very much a life-style condition across all sectors of society.

From the Life-Based Learning Forum perspective, the campaign to combat obesity needs to start with schools — not just as an add-on to the curriculum, but central to it. For example, knowing about and looking after the body is one of nine life themes through which everything is taught. Only by direct focus and attention in the education of the young can there be any hope of slimming down the population.

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