The clear link between obesity and mortality among those with Covid-19 has infused a Cumbrian businessman's mission with a new sense of urgency.

Chris Matthews, who lives near Carlisle, runs a network of weight loss clinics across the country.

His Alevere and Silverlink Clinics, which can be found in Carlisle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Stockton-on-Tees, Leeds and London have seen a surge in patients following the Covid-19 lockdown.

Chris, age 50, is planning to open several new clinics as the Government and the NHS places a renewed focus on the vital role healthy weight loss must play in making the nation more healthy.

"Obesity is a national epidemic,” said Chris.

“In some studies, 37 per cent of fatalities caused by Covid 19 have obesity listed as a contributing factor, a scary thought but also something people can really do something about.

“With most of the population either furloughed or working from home, people have overindulged in home comforts such as eating, drinking and watching TV."

Chris said he estimated the vast majority of those who have been more housebound as a result of the lockdown have gained weight.

Almost two-thirds of adults in England are overweight or obese.

One in three children leave primary school overweight or obese, with obesity-related illnesses costing the NHS £6 billion a year.

Chris himself completed a radical weight loss journey back in 2009. “Seeing the scales tip 20 stones hit me like a bolt of lightning,” he said.

“I thought, what have I done to myself and where do I go from here? I’d done every diet out there but nothing worked.”

Things changed when Chris went to an Alevere therapy clinic, starting a 20-week programme that helped him lose seven stone.

Chris was so impressed by the results that he opened the first Silverlink Clinic in Newcastle in 2011 and, now offers Alevere therapy to more than 250 patients a week at his chain of clinics across the country.

The specialised treatment is carried out under close medical supervision by doctors.

The programme costs about £1,000 a month and incorporates food and nutrition, ongoing medical supervision and weekly ultrasound and skin tightening treatments.

These specialist treatments help mobilise fat and tighten skin to avoid sagging when weight is lost.

Patients follow a simple nutritional plan devised by Alevere doctors which involves taking five protein food sachets every day alongside a rich and varied selection of vegetables, salads and fruit. The nutritional plan is designed to keep blood sugar levels constant.

Following completion of the weight loss stage of their treatment patients are placed on a maintenance programme so they can keep the weight off and maintain a balanced diet.

“People need professional help to lose body fat,” says Chris.

"With Alevere Therapy there is no surgery, no weight loss pills and our medical team have a combined experience of successfully treating weight loss of over 50 years.

“We have already had some great results with one of our clients losing an amazing 13 stones within less than 12 months.

"I have been through the weight-loss journey myself and I know Alevere Therapy will help people who want to lose weight after the lockdown.”