PEOPLE who are trying to lose weight could be prescribed Weight Watchers free on the NHS.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to tackle obesity in the UK after his brush with Covid-19 convinced him to shed the pounds.
Mr Johnson has suggested the severe symptoms he endured were partly down to his weight.
It comes after various studies have flagged obesity as one of the major reisk factors for severe Covid-19 and death from the disease.
Mr Johnson weighed 17 stone 7lbs when he was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital in London with the virus in April.
It is thought he has lost at least a stone since recovering.
At present doctors are able to refer patients who need to lose weight to the Weight Watchers (WW) scheme if they are at risk of type 2 diabetes.
Those who are referred get nine months of the plan subsidised.
Downing Street is currently discussing how to put more of the population on a diet and it is thought that an increase in referrals to the Weight Watchers programme may be on the cards.
Plans from the government are believed to focus on pushing people to slim down and to follow exercise programmes.
The Daily Mail reported that the plan is still in its early stages but that the Department for Health has been asked to submit proposals to the Prime Minister.
Other projects could include the end of buy-one-get-one free advertisements as well as a pre-9pm ban on junk food advertisements.
Speaking on Times Radio Mr Johnson said: “I have taken a very libertarian stance on obesity.
“When you look at the pressure on the NHS, and compare, I’m afraid, this wonderful country of ours to other European countries, we are significantly fatter than most.”
The WW programme is clinically-proven to support weight loss and improvement in blood sugar control in those diagnosed with pre-diabetes.
As well as helping members lose weight, WW helps people change their habits to make healthy eating and physical activity a part of their daily lives.
Those referred by their GP or nurse will get access to the full range of WW tools, including coaching and workshops, face-to-face meetings, recipe ideas and activity and wellness inspiration, as well as support on the WW app.
The collaboration is part of the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, working with NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK.
Other measures such as sugar taxes have been discussed but it is thought that Mr Johnson would rather gently nudge people in the right direction with exercise and diet plans.
Papers published by NHS England in May state that there were 876,000 hospital admissions with obesity as a factor over the last year.
It also found that 67 per cent of men were overweight or obese along with 60 per cent of women.
Shockingly the statistics also showed that 20 per cent of year 6 children are classed as obese.
As well as this obesity has also been flagged as one of the main risk factors for Covid-19.
Researchers previously found that people who are obese have a 37 per cent higher risk of dying.
The government already has a number of weight loss referral schemes in place up and down the country.
Group sessions are run in local areas by qualified nutritionists.
The sessions guide those who have been referred by their GP through the different food groups and how to make better choices.
Some even offer subsidised gym plans and free exercise classes.