Page 3 Profile: Eric Pickles, politician

 

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The Independent Online

Weighing in on a big issue?

The Conservative politician Eric Pickles has opened up about his struggle to lose weight and condemned NHS officials in Devon for threatening to ban heavily overweight people from receiving routine operations unless they slim down.

Talk about extreme measures…

Last week the Clinical Commissioning Group that organises most of the health treatment in Devon announced controversial plans to deny operations to patients with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 35 (morbidly obese), until they lose five per cent of their weight or reduce their BMI (calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared), in a bid to slash costs. Mr Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, branded the proposal “anathema”.

Sounds like it’s a sensitive subject for Mr Pickles?

“The NHS is in our DNA. The idea that you would say ‘You will not survive, you’ve had your chips, you are too fat’…It’s not the kind of Britain I recognise,” the 62-year-old Cabinet Minister told the BBC. He added: “I’m a biggish guy. Admittedly, there’s an awful lot less of me than there was on April 16 when I started this process of losing weight.”

How is he shedding the pounds?

While his newly-svelte colleague, Chancellor George Osborne, has apparently dropped two stone on to the 5:2 regime, where dieters eat normally for five days a week and fast for two, Mr Pickles has opted to bypass this fad and simply eat healthily and exercise more.

And this approach is working for him?

“It’s really hard to diet,” the MP for Brentwood and Ongar admitted. “I have not really mentioned it but I have decided to do something about it,” he added. “I walk 8km a day, I watch what I eat. It does work.” Mr Pickles revealed that his BMI is now 32.

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