South Asians encouraged to lose weight, cut COVID-19 risk


LONDON: Public Health England (PHE) has launched a major new adult health campaign, called ‘Better Health’, to encourage adults to eat better, lose weight and get active.

Everyone can benefit from taking steps towards having a healthier diet and getting more exercise. Data shows that 16.3% of Asian men and 23.6% of Asian women are living with obesity, putting them at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes – and now COVID-19.

Professor Kevin Fenton

Data highlighted in a recent PHE report shows that obese people are significantly more likely to become seriously ill and be admitted to intensive care with COVID-19 compared to those with a healthy BMI.

The Better Health campaign, which forms part of the Government’s new Obesity Strategy, will specifically target groups that have higher rates of obesity including South Asians, black Africans and black Caribbeans. 

The campaign will provide access to a range of tools, information, and advice to help people start their weight-loss journey. This includes the new FREE 12-week NHS Weight Loss Plan, available both online and via a new app, which offers exercise plans and healthy food options to help users lose and maintain a healthy weight.

TV Doctor Ranj Singh

Professor Kevin Fenton, London Regional Director at Public Health England, comments: “Gaining weight often happens gradually over time and can be just the odd unhealthy habit mounting up, but extra weight puts pressure on our bodies and reduces our strength to fight off serious diseases, including COVID-19.

“COVID-19 has given us a wake-up call to get our health back on track. We know how hard it can be to lose weight and keep it off – our Better Health campaign aims to make it easier for everyone to introduce changes that will help them maintain a healthy weight. It’s never too late, or too early, to make changes that will have a lasting impact on your health.”

Professor Wasim Hanif

Professor Wasim Hanif, Chairman Diabetes Working Group at the South Asian Health Foundation (SAHF) says:“The South Asian community is already predisposed to many serious health conditions that are exacerbated by being overweight or obese, such as type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and now most significantly, Coronavirus.  As the latest figures reveal that over 16.3% of Asian men and 23.6% of Asian women are living with obesity, we support the Better Health campaign’s attempts to provide practical guidance to how we all can live a healthier life.”

TV Doctor Ranj Singh says: “Being overweight or obese is a complex issue. It happens because of a number of reasons, both related to the individual and the environment that they are in. Blame doesn’t help anyone, and this is an issue we all need to tackle together. Being obese or overweight has a long term effect on your health and is linked to many serious and preventable health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The Better Health website provides lots of useful information to help people introduce changes and help manage their weight.