FILE - Britain's Prime Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions session in parliament, in London, July 15, 2020.
FILE - Britain's Prime Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions session in parliament, in London, July 15, 2020.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is urging citizens to exercise and shed weight, saying he has done so since his recovery earlier this year from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.  

The prime minister’s office introduced a “Better Health” campaign Monday and released a video of himself walking his dog and talking up the benefits of regular exercise.

Johnson said at the peak of his illness, when he was taken into the intensive care unit to be treated for COVID-19, he was way overweight. Since he returned from the hospital, Johnson said he started running, which has become easier for him and that he has lost more than six kilograms.

Johnson’s advice comes after a recent report from Public Health England showing the overweight and obese are at greater risk for severe illness and of death from COVID-19.  

The prime minister said losing weight and becoming fit would also protect the National Health Service from becoming overwhelmed with patients.

Johnson said he doesn’t want to be excessively “bossy or nannying” about losing weight, because he understands the struggles many people have with doing so. He said he just wants to be helpful.  

As part of the “Better Health” campaign, Johnson’s government will fight the "obesity time bomb" by banning advertising of junk food before 9.00 p.m., ending "buy one get one free" deals and putting calories on menus.  

Government data show more than 60% of British citizens are overweight as is one in three children. The data indicate overweight children are five times more likely to become overweight adults.