Sunday, 24 June 2012

The horrendous spectre of UK obesity

Perhaps even the dog looks overweight? 
Here in the UK the National Audit Office reckons the NHS spends £500M a year on obesity related problems.  By the time that's factored to include the impact on the wider economy, the figure grows to £2Bn.  By any measure that is a huge amount of money.

I want to bring some encouragement to the blogosphere world on the point of obesity.  There is a way out of this problem which includes changing lifestyles, changing the national diet, the way food and beverages are taxed (or not as the case may be) and offering real help that really works.  I'm not an expert on this, moreover I'm just an ordinary person but it is something that concerns me, having once weighed 13 stone 8lbs in 2003.  For the last few years I have been a steady 10 stone 7lbs (BMI 21.5) so perhaps I have had a narrow escape and a bit of an awakening.

The main thing is not to ponder the negative aspects of obesity too much, although these are important and I'm going to mention these below.  The main thing is to grasp the belief that obesity CAN be overcome, the result will be fantastic and if it applies to you, you will never want to go back to that old lifestyle again.  Please read that last sentence again and absorb it before you go any further.

Yesterday we were out and about; a normal Saturday afternoon thing for us.  We stopped and had a little snack at a "beauty spot" which was no big deal.  In fact, here's Hannah enjoying hers:

What sticks in my mind was seeing a woman on a nearby table.  Clearly obese she was eating a burger with all of the trimmings.   Perhaps she was eating then out of habit, perhaps out of seeking some comfort or maybe a whole load of other reasons.  While the food may have tasted nice to her, it could only have given her some brief pleasure, if anything at all.   She looked as if she was hating it and taking no pleasure from eating it, perhaps it was tinged with some guilt.

While obesity can take hold at any time in life, perhaps for many the middle-aged obesity problem is a big issue.  I mentioned earlier I was over weight a few years ago and thankfully never made it to the realms of obesity but it could so easily have been the case for me.  I remember it crept up on me.  We often joke about "married contentment" when we notice our friends becoming a little more cuddly and we've been the subject of that banter ourselves.  It is so easy for people in their 30s or 40s to continue eating as they did in the 20s but the waist line grows in such a gradual way it is never noticed until, well, you notice it with a shock.  The fact is, for many people, our metabolism changes alongside our lifestyle becoming more sedentary which in turns leads to those extra pounds and kilograms.

As I said earlier, there has to be that solid belief that it can be overcome; changes CAN be made which are effective and the effect will be so wonderful you will never want to return to those baggy clothes.  People who do lose that surplus weight have so much more energy and ability to get out there and have some enjoyment.  No more wheezing, panting or struggles in doing simple things.  Do remember as you improve your weight and fitness, the more you achieve the easier it becomes to achieve even more (does that make sense?).

We all know the basic reasons for obesity: the wrong foods in the wrong quantities and not enough physical activity.  Wrong foods mean, put simply, foods with too much sugar and fat.  Not enough physical activity means a sedentary lifestyle which does not include some kind of exercise which gets you out of breath 3 or 4 times a week.

In 2009 here in the UK it was reported that:

60% of adults were over weight (22% of men were obese, 24% of women were obese)
31% of children were over weight

Good things to look forward to by losing weight:

  • You will probably live longer and enjoy good overall health
  • You are less likely to suffer from diabetes and associated problems - eyesight, problems with feet and circulation etc
  • You are less likely to have heart disease
  • Your blood pressure will be normal
  • You will look good, feel more confident
  • Your mental health will be better with a better chance of avoiding depression, or anxiety problems
  • Your fertility will improve
  • You are less likely to suffer from certain cancers
  • You are less likely to suffer from arthritis, indigestion 
  • You won't snore as much



  1. I wouldn't be surprised if the cost of obesity is more than £500m in terms of days lost at work. It is a real shame. Obesity has become a real disease of affluence.

  2. Thanks Tejvan, you could well be right.

    My apologies to you as your comment found it's way into the automated spam folder and I have only just discovered it there, hence restoring it!

  3. You are right about the middle aged spread as ones' metabolism does slow down in many people. Not everyone becasue of different body types but riding a bicycle is a sure brilliant way of losing weight. J.

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