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Covid and obesity: can we stop eating ourselves to death?


About this ThinkIn

Public Health England data shows the risk of death from Covid-19 increased by 90% in people with a BMI (Body Mass Index) over 40, regardless of age. In lockdown, many of us have understandably turned to food for comfort – and it shows. The Department of Health and Social Care for England’s new obesity strategy outlines seven key measures to encourage us all to slim down – including more weight management services on the NHS, more calorie labelling and restrictions on the promotion of unhealthy foods on TV and in shops. But does this go far enough?

Does the government’s new anti-obesity rhetoric whiff of fat-shaming and the nanny state? Given some campaigners argue that BMI is a useless and outdates measure of health and fitness anyway, is ‘getting tough on obesity’ just another way of avoiding tackling the root cause of people’s ill-health, namely social inequality? Is it time for a national food strategy, incorporating food-specific taxes to reinvest in education and improved access to nutrition? What, realistically, can or should be done to stop us eating ourselves to death?

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editor and invited experts

Liz Moseley
Members’ Editor

Meera Senthilingam
Global Health Journalist

Dolly Theis
Centre for Diet and Activity Research, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine

Rose Stokes
Freelance writer and columnist