Sir George Young MP took a break from heavyweight politics when he had his Body Mass index (BMI) measured at a parliamentary exhibition organised by Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
The two charities joined forces at a special parliamentary healthy living day to raise awareness of the impact of obesity on cancer and heart disease and to give MPs and staff advice on how to stay active and maintain a healthy weight.
Sir George says: "It's really important that people know that there are simple things we can all do to live healthier lives and reduce our risk of heart disease and cancer".
Dr Lesley Walker, Director of Cancer Information at Cancer Research UK, says "When you're thinking about eating a healthy balanced diet remember the five-a-day message. Aim for a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and low in red and processed meat, fatty foods and alcohol."
Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director of the BHF added: "The heart is like any other muscle, and needs to be exercised to work at its best. Just half an hour's moderate intensity activity, five times a week is enough to reach minimum fitness levels, and get your heart pumping."
Obesity is a key risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD), which kills more than 117,000 people in the UK every year. Improvements in treatment have meant that death rates from CHD have been falling, but the current obesity epidemic threatens to reverse this trend. People who are overweight or obese force their hearts to work harder, and increase their risk of diabetes - another major contributor to heart disease.
Cancer Research UK launched their new Reduce the Risk campaign with the results of a survey showing that two thirds of people were unaware that being overweight or obese increases the risk of some cancers. The same number didn't know that a diet low in fruit and vegetables could increase their chance of getting the disease. There is convincing evidence that overweight and obesity casue cancer. About 12,000 new cases a year could be avoided if no-one was overweight or obese.
For more advice on how to maintain a healthy weight, or to find out more about Cancer Research UK's and the BHF's campaigns, visit www.bhf.org.uk/lifestyle and www.reducetherisk.org.