27 Jul 2020

Public Health England has launched a major new adult health campaign to support people to get fit and lose weight - something that can help in the fight against Covid-19 and other diseases.

Analysis of data around Covid-19 shows that patients with obesity are more likely to be admitted to intensive care, require advanced treatment and potentially have poorer outcomes.

A quarter of Covid-19 patients who died in England had diabetes and smokers are more likely to report Covid-19 symptoms and twice as likely to be hospitalised.

In doing research with the public, many did not understand that being overweight/obese or a smoker significantly increased their risk of getting seriously ill with Covid-19.  When this was explained, their motivation to change was significant.

The Better Health campaign aims to capture the imagination of the nation, using this unique moment in time to help kick start our health to eat better and get active. Covid-19 has affected the whole country and has also prompted many people to reflect and think more seriously about their health. People have been surprised by how able they have been to change their behaviour, with lockdown showing many that they are able to make and sustain changes to their lives.

The Better Health campaign will kick off by supporting individuals on their weight loss journey, but later down the line, the programme will also provide advice and support for quitting smoking, drinking less and looking after your mental health.

Nearly two thirds (63%) of adults in the UK are overweight or living with obesity. Gaining weight is often a gradual process that takes place over a number of years and modern life doesn’t always make it easy. This extra weight causes pressure to build up around vital organs, making it harder for the body to fight against diseases like cancer, heart disease and now Covid-19.

The Better Health webpage is now live at nhs.uk/BetterHealth and provides tools to help people manage their weight loss – from checking their BMI, to getting access to free support tools including the NHS 12-week weight loss plan.

The NHS 12-week weight loss plan, available via a new app, promotes evidence-based safe and sustainable weight loss. It helps users to make healthier choices, by providing the most up to date evidence based healthy eating and physical activity advice in a magazine format that enables them to keep track of their calorie intake, portions of fruit and veg, physical activity level and teaches skills to prevent weight gain.

Alongside the free NHS 12-week plan, PHE is also working with a number of well-known weight management providers that will be offering exclusive discounts across their weight loss programmes including WW Weight Watchers reimagined, Slimming World and Get Slim, get healthy.