“For those who are shielding, particularly if they do not need to, the psychological and emotional impact could be significant, while the stress – and restrictions to movement – could equally have an impact on someone’s overall health and wellbeing and, specifically, their blood glucose control. But it is incredibly important that the Government uses the latest data to inform their advice, to ensure that the guidelines around shielding are not only proportionate, but also in direct response to the data available.

“We understand that Nervtag will review the evidence for shielding, including what evidence is emerging about who is at highest clinical risk of severe illness if they catch Covid-19. This will inform the future of the shielding programme.”

Meanwhile, Public Health England has begun a review examining how obesity, along with gender and ethnicity, can affect health outcomes. Overall, 29 per cent of adults of all ages are obese, compared with an average of 19.5 in the latest international audit by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Analysis in 2017 revealed the UK as the fattest nation in Western Europe, with obesity rates twice those of countries including Sweden and Norway.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “The guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from Covid-19 has been developed by expert doctors. They have identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about the virus so far, place someone at greatest risk of severe illness from Covid-19. We continue to keep this evidence under review.” 

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