Boris Johnson will tomorrow tell the two-thirds of Britons who are fat to get on their bikes to lose weight – as the Government’s controversial obesity drive splits his Cabinet.
The Prime Minister intends to put daily exercise front and centre of his new ‘Better Health’ drive targeting the 35 million Britons estimated to be overweight.
He is even recruiting his pet dog, Dilyn, to extol the benefits of going for walks. It is understood the year-old rescue pup will appear in a video alongside Mr Johnson as he launches the campaign.
The Prime Minister intends to put daily exercise front and centre of his new ‘Better Health’ drive targeting the 35 million Britons estimated to be overweight. He is pictured with dog Dilyn who will appear in a video alongside him
The package will see an expansion of NHS weight-loss services, with GPs ordered to urge patients to cycle more to shed the pounds.
The Government has brought forward measures to tackle obesity amid growing evidence that excess weight is associated with a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
Mr Johnson has attributed his heavy build to his brush with death from Covid-19. But the vigorous measures set to be unveiled – such as a sweeping ban on advertising junk food on the airwaves and forcing restaurants to display calorie counts – have split opinion within Mr Johnson’s top team.
One Cabinet source said: ‘Just when we are urging Britons to ‘eat out to help out’ and try to kick-start the economy, we risk tying up the very small businesses the Treasury says it is trying to help in red tape and hitting the Exchequer with diminishing returns.’
Boris Johnson is seen going for a run in May. The Government has brought forward measures to tackle obesity amid growing evidence that excess weight is associated with a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus
One Minister described the plan as ‘bonkers’, adding: ‘It’s draconian and it won’t work. It means chippies and pubs that sell burgers risk being blocked from advertising online and will be bogged down in paperwork designed to see off nannying Public Health England spot-checkers.’
Particular concern has been raised by the Treasury and the Business Department, The Mail on Sunday has learned, amid fears it will hit tax takes and companies’ revenues.
A Whitehall source said: ‘Boris has gone for the more extreme stuff being pumped out by the public health lobby and it is being driven solely from No 10. Even some of his closest team hate it. But what the PM wants, the PM gets. I’m just not sure it has been thought through properly.’
Last night, a Government spokesman said: ‘We will be urging the public to use this moment to take stock of how they live their lives – and to take simple steps to lose weight, live healthier lives and reduce pressure on the NHS.’
But Christopher Snowdon, of the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: ‘If Boris thinks restricting advertising is going to reduce obesity, he is mistaken. If he thinks he will win favour with Left-wing nanny statisticians by alienating his natural supporters, he is delusional.’
Source: Daily Mail