British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is no stranger to making bold statements, but this one, it seems, will be remembered for a long time. Addressing the Conservative Party via teleconference on Tuesday, the 56-year-old revealed that his weight was the reason why he became gravely ill with the coronavirus.
"I have to admit the reason I had such a nasty experience with the disease is that although I was superficially in the peak of health when I caught it, I had a very common underlying condition - my friends I was too fat", the prime minister said, adding that he has lost 26 pounds (almost 12 kg) since he recovered from the disease.
The candid admission was followed by Johnson bashing critics of the government, who were spreading "drivel" that suggests the coronavirus had "robbed" him of his "mojo". The prime minister said he is ready to refute critics of his athletic abilities in any way they want.
"Arm-wrestling, leg-wrestling, Cumberland wrestling sprint-off, you name it", Johnson said, challenging his critics.
The prime minister tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of March and even spent three days in an intensive care unit after his condition worsened. After recovering from the disease, which has claimed the lives of more than 42,000 people in the United Kingdom alone, Johnson hired a celebrity personal trainer to help him lose weight.
Doctors say that being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing severe illness and heath complications due to COVID-19 as well as increases the chances of dying from the coronavirus. Britain has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. Nearly two-thirds of adults are classed as overweight and almost a million hospital admissions were attributed to obesity in 2018-2019.
Britain also has one of the highest death tolls from COVID-19, which has prompted the government to launch a programme to make Brits healthier.