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‘I was too fat’: Boris Johnson brings Britain along on his health kick

After being diagnosed with COVID-19, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has moved to restrict the advertising of unhealthy foods.

‘I was too fat’: Boris Johnson brings Britain along on his health kick
[Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images]

Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, is not known for healthy living. He once admitted to eating “a few chocolate croissants mid-morning . . . and vast quantities of Diet Coke.” Just last year, he was obese and campaigning on a platform that questioned Britain’s taxes on foods high in salt, fat, and sugar.

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Then he landed in intensive care with COVID-19, and changed his tune: Today he released a video of himself sportily walking his dog while espousing exercise (“I’ve been steadily building up my fitness!”), all part of his new nationwide campaign to fight obesity.

Over 60% of the British population is obese, and in the U.K., obesity roughly triples the risk of landing in intensive care with coronavirus.

Now Brits will join Johnson on his fitness odyssey, with a national weight loss campaign and guidelines that will include:

  • No more buy-one-get-one-free ads for unhealthy foods
  • A ban on junk food advertisements before 9 p.m.
  • Calorie labeling on alcohols and the menus of restaurants that employ more than 250 people
  • A nationwide campaign on “waking up” to healthy eating in the age of coronavirus

For Johnson, this is personal. As he explains in the video, “When I went into ICU, when I was really ill, I was way overweight . . . you know, I was too fat.” Now he starts the day with a “gentle run” with his dog, which is apparently unfun: “The great thing about going for a run at the beginning of the day is that nothing could be worse for the rest of the day.”

In May, he received permission from Queen Elizabeth to exercise on the grounds of Buckingham Palace as he recovered from COVID-19, and was frequently photographed huffing and puffing. He says that he is just trying to “help people a little bit to bring their weight down. Not in an excessively bossy or nannying way, I hope.”

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