Obesity – It will be the death of us
The latest health figures for the over 40s makes pretty somber reading. 83% of 40 to 60 year-olds are either drinking too much, are inactive or are overweight. Particularly, 77% of men and 63% of women in middle-age are either overweight or obese
Obesity is rising for all age groups including children, and I believe we are in an obesity crisis situation. Public Health England (PHE) created a new initiative called ‘One You’ for the over 40s to try and engage them in healthy eating and lifestyles so as they age they still maintain good health.
Why not take their ‘How Are You’ quiz. It will help anyone who wants to take stock to find out quickly where they can take a little changes to make a big difference to their health.
The Nottingham Post asked for my views on this tricky subject. You can read the article either on line or in yesterdays paper.
But what do you think we need to do?
One of the knock on effects of obesity is the increased risk of certain illness including heart disease, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes alone is costing the NHS over £10 billion a year and 80% of the issues they treat in hospital are about managing avoidable complications
So what can be done?
I believe it has to be a combined approach, with the individual at the heart of it. They need to take responsibility for their own and their family’s health; by looking at portion control, how often they eat ready/processed or takeaway meals, how often are children given fizzy drinks, sweets and chocolates. What level of activity to they undertake? Some simple solutions are sit-down less and move more. This can also be carried out at work; try and take breaks from your desk regularly, have a walk at lunch time, get off the bus one/two stops earlier and walk the rest of the way home. Buddying up with a friend is a good way to maintain an exercise programme.
I am getting more enquiries from parents who want to come and learn to cook with their children, so as a family they can eat healthily. And its great watching them learn together and make a meal that is healthy and delicious. I also give healthy eating advice and get the family to try different ingredients, and offer simple tips to make the shopping cheaper such as buying frozen veg, make soup with leftovers and what ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ really means in an attempt to avoid food waste
I advise that when out doing the food shop, never do it when you are hungry, make a list, plan your meals in advance so you don’t get sucked in to buy the special offers or be tempted by the cakes, desserts and crisps
Manufacturers/supermarkets also need to take a responsibility; have more special offers on healthy food like fruits, veg, wholegrains etc. Have clearer labelling on the front of the packets, especially about portion size. Posters in the shops about the benefits of fruits and veg, recipe cards with simple, quick and cheap family meals
The government needs to deliver stronger and harder hitting messages about the dangers of obesity, type 2 diabetes etc (a bit like the smoking campaigns). And offer helpful advice about portion control, cheap healthy quick family meals etc
Schools need to follow on with a consistent message about healthy eating; get children growing veg, cooking, helping in the community. Their school meals could use some of the homegrown veg and have fewer vending machines on the premises.
Local planners could look at how many fast food outlets, sweet shops etc are located near schools or near housing estates and take a responsible view
So I believe we all have a responsibility is tackling this epidemic.