Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Sunday, 8 February 2009

Johnson wants to dance UK fitter

Alan Johnson
Mr Johnson points out you don't have to be brilliant to benefit from dancing

Strictly Come Dancing has inspired Health Secretary Alan Johnson to a new step in the battle against obesity.

He has told the Sunday Times he was gripped by the spectacle of former journalist John Sergeant attempting to dance in the contest.

It was not the dancing style which struck Mr Johnson but the fact he lost two stone in 10 weeks on the BBC show.

Now he plans to create a "dance working group" to expand the availability of dance classes to adults.

He hopes people who have resisted previous efforts to get involved in sport could become active through dancing.

The working group would include the judges from the popular programme.

In the interview he said modern life was "killing us" and that he wanted to get Britain moving.

While it is important for people to get regular exercise, which can include dancing, these are not serious announcements - they are government by gimmick
Norman Lamb
Lib Dem health spokesman

"The point about dance is you don't have to be a professional," he said.

"You don't have to be brilliant on your feet but it gets you moving and that is what all of us need.

"We evolved as human beings to find food scarce and to expend a lot of energy. Now we live in a society where energy-rich food is abundant and labour-saving technology is ubiquitous."

Other proposals include encouraging GPs to prescribe exercise instead of drugs.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: "The idea that the Government can waltz the nation to fitness by central direction is ludicrous.

"While it is important for people to get regular exercise, which can include dancing, these are not serious announcements - they are government by gimmick."

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