ADULTS in Swindon are some of the fattest in the region and could be at higher risk of dying if they catch coronavirus.

Public Health England’s newest report found that being overweight or obese can dramatically increase the risk of being hospitalised or dying from Covid-19.

The latest available statistics show that 65 per cent of Swindon adults in 2018-19 fell into those two categories - higher than the south west average of 61 per cent and the England average of 62 per cent.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who says he struggles with his own weight – announced a range of measures to help people shed the pounds, including a ban on some junk food promotions and stricter advertising controls.

Kaz Rose from Park South went on a remarkable weight loss journey by shedding 12 stone - half her body weight - and now encourages others to eat healthier after noticing a life-changing difference to her wellbeing.

She has run her own Slimming World group in Gorse Hill since the start of the year to help other people in Swindon shed a few pounds.

Kaz said: “It’s the best thing I have ever done. I feel more in control of my life, it opened my eyes to a better lifestyle, healthier eating and sport.

“During lockdown, our virtual groups have gone well and led to more people joining. I think Covid made more people want to lose weight because they are worried about their health.

“I didn’t think the figures for overweight people in Swindon were that high, I’m shocked, but at least the problem is being recognised and there is so much out there being offered to help.”

The 36-year-old emphasised the importance of committing to weight loss and wondered if the government’s new Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme might persuade people to buy healthier meals.

She added: “It’s hard to lose weight at first because it’s a big lifestyle change so you have to prepared to make that difference to your routine and yourself.

“If you don’t want to do it, you will end up finding ways not to, so you need to find a plan that works and stick to it.

“People see good food as expensive but it’s not - maybe the discount scheme will help with that because even when going to a pub, you can make good choices.

“It’s possible to make a healthy meal in 20 minutes, it just takes that time to make something yourself with recipes instead of ready meals.”

“I grow my Slimming World group as much as I can, I don’t call being a consultant a job because I enjoy it so much. I know what my clients are going through because I’ve gone through it too, all the highs and lows.

Swindon Labour’s spokeswoman for public health Janine Howarth said: “Obesity was a big problem in Swindon prior to Covid - in 2017, 78 per cent of adults in the town were designated as overweight.

“But the pandemic has highlighted how much obesity is detrimental to people’s health. We need to look afresh at ideas which can solve the problem long term.

“This means introducing an early intervention programme in which we create a multi skilled agency which can educate to live a healthy life style.

“We need to work in tandem to make this happen and we need it to work across all parts of the town because because obesity does not discriminate - it affects people of all ages and of all income groups.”

The Beat the Street initiative has proved to be a popular way to get us out and about, with thousands of people racking up more than 250,000 miles in six weeks as they explored the town to find points boxes last year.

Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for health Brian Ford said: “Swindon’s obesity statistics are not too dissimilar to the country as a whole and to many areas across the South West, though we would of course prefer them to be much lower.

“Obesity makes it harder for the body to fight against diseases like cancer, heart disease and now Covid-19. Earlier this week, Public Health England launched a major new Better Health campaign – to improve the nation’s health.

"I would suggest that people carrying excess weight have a look online for information about the campaign, which provides a variety of tools and apps to help people make healthier food choices, become more active and prevent future weight gain.

“I would encourage people to make the most of the nice weather, while we have it, and get out and do some exercise, while of course observing the social distancing guidelines.”