Tackling the nation’s obesity levels is a “particular obsession” of Boris Johnson after his brush with Covid, Matt Hancock has said.
Speaking at the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity’s Levelling Up Health report, the Health Secretary said that “improving the disparities in healthy life expectancy is absolutely at the core of our levelling-up agenda”.
Earlier this year, the Prime Minister pledged to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis following his admission to intensive care with coronavirus, admitting that he had been “too fat” when he contracted the virus.
Mr Hancock said “healthy life is unevenly distributed across the country” and issues around food, obesity, smoking, air pollution and the chances of children should be tackled.
He said: “We know that smoking is the single biggest preventable killer in this country, and that the disparities in smoking rates are still far too wide.
“The estimate is that around half the gap in healthy life expectancy can be explained and therefore resolved by differences in the smoking rates.
“Obesity is clearly critical, and has had a significant impact on people’s morbidity and mortality when hit by Covid, and is a particular obsession of the Prime Minister’s after his experience with Covid.
“And I have to say he’s looking absolutely fantastic, and has clearly lost quite a lot of weight in the last few months, and I hope that we can encourage the nation to too.”
Mr Hancock said he wanted to incentivise the whole system so that people do not end up in “expensive care” in hospitals.
He said putting more funding into the community “based on this concept of population health” could help keep people out of hospital.
Mr Hancock said “prevention being better than cure” needed to be a principle “that runs through every decision, every allocation of resources across the NHS”.