FAMILY legend has it that I weighed over 10 pounds at birth. Probably explains why I’m an only child. I was the class fatty all the way through primary school. Some would say my parents were guilty of child abuse, but nothing could be further from the truth. Having survived the hardships of the 1920s, 30s and 40s, they simply wanted to give me the things they missed out on. Unfortunately, most involved chocolate. Obesity beckoned, but I was saved by lifelong participation in exercise and sport.

I was lucky. Like all overweight adults, I would have been more vulnerable to Covid-type illness. Add respiratory failure and Type-2 diabetes to the mix and another public health emergency is in the making. The UK government has already declared a “war on obesity”. The Prime Minister may be more of a roly poly model than a role model, but his press ups regime suggests even he’s got the idea. In Scotland we seem proud to let it all hang out as we wobble down the high street. Around one third of our children are overweight or obese. 65% of adults are considered overweight, with 29% classed as obese. Time and pounds roll on together, with an astonishing 78% of those between 65 and 74 classed as overweight.

Drastic action was taken to avoid overwhelming the NHS with Covid cases. Obesity threatens to do the same, swallowing up essential resources. The overweight should not be at the back of the queue for surgery, but should still be accountable for their choices and consequences.

Early intervention and prevention are always better and cheaper than cure. Developing a healthy lifestyle and daily exercise, should be more central to the school curriculum. Oh, how we laughed at those old newsreels of Japanese workers doing morning exercises at their desks and machines. Who’s laughing now, when Japan has the world’s healthiest elderly population? Why not incentivise Scottish employers to provide time for daily exercise in offices and factories? Through GPs, at risk individuals can be targeted, supported and monitored. Despite the Covid track and trace fiasco, phone apps could still be useful, although electronic tagging of the overweight may be a bridge too far.

Re-opening pubs and fast food outlets before gyms and indoor sports facilities sent out the wrong message. Surely, a work out or a game of squash in a controlled environment is less of a health risk than a burger washed down by six pints of lager. The government needs to get on message. Otherwise, a resurgence of Covid, combined with increasing levels of obesity, and the fat will be well and truly in the fire.

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