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Britain unveiled plans to tackle an “obesity time bomb” on Monday, banning TV and online adverts for junk food before 9.00 p.m., ending “buy one get one free” deals on such foods and putting calories on menus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has lost weight since he was in intensive care with COVID-19, wants to tackle obesity after research showed those who are obese or overweight are at increased risk of death or severe illness from the coronavirus.

Last month, he said Britain was fatter than most European countries apart from Malta and his government described “tackling the obesity time bomb” as a priority.

Ditching his earlier stance as a non-believer of “nannying” politics, his government is announcing a new drive to help people to “take control of their own future by losing weight, getting active and adopting a healthier lifestyle”.

Alongside the ban on adverts before 9.00 p.m. (2000 GMT), on food deals and plans for the calorific content of meals to be displayed on menus, the government will also launch a consultation on displaying calories on alcohol.

“Losing weight is hard but with some small changes we can all feel fitter and healthier,” Johnson said in a statement.

“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 (National Health Service).”

With more than 60% of adults in Britain considered overweight or obese, according to Public Health England, the coronavirus crisis has put the obesity issue at the forefront of the government’s thinking, with a “Better Health” campaign being launched alongside the new measures.

Weight management services will be expanded in the NHS, and Public Health England will call on people to embrace a healthier lifestyle and to lose weight if they need to, supported by a range of evidence-based tools and apps.

“Everyone knows how hard losing weight can be so we are taking bold action to help everyone who needs it,” health minister Matt Hancock said.

“To help support people we need to reduce unhelpful influences like promotions and adverts that affect what you buy and what you eat. Taken together, supported by an inspiring campaign and new smart tools, will get the country eating healthily and losing the pounds.”