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Boris Johnson launches battle on the bulge

Walkies: Mr Johnson and his dog Dilyn PICTURE: ANDREW PARSONS/NO 10 DOWNING STREET

BORIS JOHNSON will today announce the end of confectionery displays at store checkouts and a ban on junk food adverts before 9pm in an effort to tackle Britain’s obesity problem.

The prime minister’s Better Health campaign will also ban ‘buy one, get one free’ promotions on fattening products, and restaurants will have to display the calories in items on menus. There will also be a consultation on doing the same for alcohol.

Mr Johnson, who said his serious brush with Covid-19 in April convinced him of the need to tackle bulging waistlines, said: ‘Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier. If we all do our bit, we can reduce our health risks and protect ourselves against coronavirus — as well as taking pressure off the NHS.’

The approach marks a U-turn for Mr Johnson, who has been an opponent of ‘sin taxes’ and perceived ‘nannying’ by the state. As part of the plan, NHS weight loss services are to be expanded, while GPs will be encouraged to prescribe bike rides. The push follows a Public Health England report that shows being medically obese increases the risk of death from Covid-19 by 40 per cent.

A third of adults are overweight and 28 per cent are obese, according to government data. One in three children aged 10 to 11 is overweight or obese.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, called it ‘a landmark day’, but UKHospitality head Kate Nicholls said the extra costs ‘could not come at a worse time’.