For many of us across Europe, pandemic lockdown #2 has been underway for a few weeks. In the UK, events and races have been cancelled, and commercial gyms and leisure centers are closed until at least early December.
Fortunately, in London, curfews and strict restrictions limiting outdoor activities (for cycling, running and walking at least) are not in place, and for many people life and business continues as usual, with a few nips and tucks on socialising and social distancing. For others, absent from the hubbub of normal daily activities, losing fitness and gaining weight is an issue, and there’s a word for it: “Coronaspeck.”
Coronaspeck, roughly translates from German to English as “corona fat”, or “corona bacon,” and the problem is so widespread that in July 2020, the UK government launched an initiative to reduce obesity, with junior health minister Helen Whatley telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that obesity is a “huge health challenge”, with two-thirds of adults overweight or obese; and prime minister Boris Johnson recommending starting the day by going for a run as “nothing could be worse for the rest of the day.”
Given that British farmers get around £3.4 billion a year in subsidies under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); the UK government department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is responsible for delivering the basics of life – food, water and air, in sufficient quantities and to a quality standard; and that government initiatives to reduce obesity are not new – Public Health England launched a campaign in March 2018 to reduce 20% of calories in popular foods by 2024, and in August 2016, the ‘Childhood obesity: a plan for action,’ was launched to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity. It is hard to believe that the UK has a huge health challenge, and worse still that food banks across the UK are reported to be distributing six parcels every minute and many school kids experience child food poverty.
Aligning the coronavirus pandemic with an obesity epidemic while not addressing issues related to livestock and agricultural sectors sustained by subsidies, the necessity of food banks and child food poverty, may not be a recipe for healthier choices or motivate the nation to start the day by going for a run.