The research also shows that obesity increases the risk of dying from Covid-19 by 40 per cent, while a BMI of 40 or more increases the risk by 90 per cent. Researchers said excess fat can affect the respiratory system and is likely to affect inflammatory and immune function.  

The research shows that just being overweight (a BMI of 25 or more) increases the risk of admission to intensive care with Covid-19 by 50 per cent, with the danger increasing as much as four-fold at a BMI of 40.

Health campaigners welcomed the direction of the Government’s policies.

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, called for changes to be introduced quickly, in a bid to tackle a growing crisis. He said:  “They will all be keenly fought by commercial interests, just as they have been for the last twenty years as obesity rates have been rising.”

The food and drinks industry expressed deep concern. 

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK hospitality, said putting precise calorie counts on menus which change regularly would cost businesses around £40,000 each time they changed.

She said: “At this point in time, imposing those mandatory costs on the industry will just cripple it while it is going through a very fragile recovery. Now is not the time to be imposing further regulatory and cost burdens.” 

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