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A NEW campaign is under way to encourage millions of adults to kick start their health and reduce their risk of serious illness, including COVID-19.

The campaign – unveiled as part of the Government’s new Obesity Strategy – encourages adults to introduce changes that will help them work towards a healthier weight, with a suite of free tools and apps supporting people to eat better, drink less alcohol and get active.

This includes a new app for the free 12-week NHS Weight Loss Plan, helping people make healthier food choices and learn skills to prevent weight gain.

The current evidence does not suggest that having excess weight increases people’s chances of contracting COVID-19. However, data 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 North West has an average rate of adult obesity prevalence in England amongst men of 26.5%, while women are slightly higher at 27.8%

Evidence also shows that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities are disproportionately affected by obesity as well as COVID-19.

Dr Rebecca Wagstaff, Deputy Director, Health & Wellbeing for PHE North West, said: “The benefits of weight loss are well evidenced as are the risk factors associated with excess weight but sometimes we just need a push to make a commitment to look after ourselves better – this is that moment.

“In the North West 65% of adults are overweight and our partners in local authorities and the NHS are very much aware of the impact excess weight, and other health inequalities, has on our populations and we work together to bring real change.”

Many people have used lockdown as an opportunity to change habits and adopt healthier behaviours, yet research has shown over half the population has found it harder to stay healthy during this time.

While staying active is important to help people lose weight and keep it off, improving diet is most critical as most people are consuming more calories than they need.