Why aren’t we able to tackle the obesity problem in this country. We’re not the only ones. America, Mexico, New Zealand, Hungary and Australia are equal or behind the UK in the obesity fight. Obesity and the illnesses it causes is well documented on TV and online. Why isn’t the message coming through. The information is there.
Culture shifts toward fast foods has had a huge impact on our eating habits. 30 to 40 years ago, fast food was only accessible in fish and chip shops. McDonald’s was only starting out in the UK then.
‘Apps’ like ‘Hungary House’ make it so easy to order food. One click of the button on your mobile, and your done. You only have to make the effort to get off the sofa and walk to the front door. Such hard work!
Eating habits are the key to healthy diets. It starts from the day you are born. What food your parents introduce to you sets up your eating habits for life. If you have a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables and meat early on, you become accustomed to that. Going the other way, if you’re introduced to lots of sweet high sugar foods at a young age, this becomes your norm. Sugar, of course has that added attraction for kids. The sugar rush as well the sweet taste are too hard to resist. The food markets know this and go out of their way to tempt everyone, especially kids. The sweets are always near the checkout, at a height where it right under the noses of youngsters.
What can be done?
We are creatures of habit. It’s in our nature. Changing addictive habits like sugar or smoking are not easy to do. Adverts focused on the harmful effects of smoking changed people’s outlook. Stark pictures of blood clotting from the end of a cigarette brought the unhealthy effects home.
This kind of advert applied to high sugar and salt intake could be powerful… but it has to be a sustained campaign. The campaign against smoking has gone on for over 20 years. The ‘truth’ campaign aimed at eliminating teen smoking in the United States started in 1999. The teen smoking rate was 23% back then. In 2016 the number was down to 6%.
The Government needs to invest in the anti-sugar campaign. The NHS face even more pressure dealing with patients with food related illness.
With the population’s steady increase, the next 50 years could be a nightmare for healthcare. It could be avoided, but only with the will to do something about it.
Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, cancers, depression and anxiety. Severely obese individuals are three times more likely to require social care than those with normal weight. This includes hospitalisation and the associated health and social care costs.
The NHS estimated the cost of obesity for 2006/7 to be £5.1 billion. The costs account for obesity medication, increasing use of bariatric surgery and new equipment to accommodate larger people.
Education Is Key
My son is a personal trainer. He runs what are known as ‘Weight Change Classes’. It’s interesting what he has to say from his experience delivering these classes.
He says “We like to keep a variety of exercises to keep the interest there. One week, it will be pull ups and press ups, shoulder press and leg press exercises. The next week more cardio based with some free weights like dumb bells and kettle bells. Another week could be kettle bells and TRX in a circuit training format. It’s still weight based, but you keep the intensity up, and keep the heart-rate high.
He says about diet, “I really try to educate them about how bad sugar is, and too much ‘carby’ foods..to much pasta, rice, chocolate sweets, fizzy drinks. The number one reason for obesity is sugar. I don’t monitor and measure what they eat, but give them an understanding of what they put into their body. Whether they change their diet or not is up to them. I just plant the seed in their mind, give them the knowledge they need, so they have a choice to either follow it or not”.
Do you measure their weight loss?
Yeah, we do weigh-ins regularly. Typically, the clients that do see improvements are the ones that stick to the program. I’ve got clients that have listened to what I’ve advised and they’ve seen good results. At the same time I’ve given advice to other clients, and they’ve found it more challenging to stick to.
How long does it take to lose weight?
Some clients lose up to 2 pounds per week. Some can even lose 4-5 pounds per week.
A basic target of 2 pounds per week over a period of 3-4 months is a huge loss. About 1¾ stones.
Do you look at their fat percentage?
Yes, very important to look at fat percentage, not just losing body weight. If you weigh 60 kilograms, you’ve got to ask the question, 60 kilograms of what? You can break that down into body fat, muscle mass, bone density, and water retention. We can measure all that, so you actually see all the parts that make up the whole body weight. So we focus much more on the body fat, because you might lose muscle mass. That would be unhealthy. This is why we focus on the weight training to hold on to the muscle mass.. that and encourage high protein intake to keep muscle mass.
So after say 6 months, surely your clients should be able to go out on their own without your assistance?
Sure, 6 months down the line, you would have learnt so much, experimented with different exercises, recorded the exercises, so you have them to follow. Over 6 months you would have done these exercises so many times, it would be like second nature..So after this much time you don’t need to be babied any more, you know what to do, you can go out on your own, so it’s kind of like a lesson for life.
So you don’t encourage people to starve themselves to lose weight?
“Oh no, starving yourself is like a quick fix but is quite damaging to the body. You have to look at food like it’s fuel. It’s like putting wood on a fire. It’s going to keep your blood fuel burning. The fire burns out, your metabolism dies down. Keep the metabolism high and you’ll be burning calories all day. Look at body builders, they’re constantly burning calories, but they’re never hungry, but they have hardly any body fat”.
To keep weight down is something that takes dedication, self-determination and self-discipline.
With a little help from informed professionals, it is very doable. It takes self drive to achieve weight loss goals. Today there is so much help from places like YouTube and online articles. You never have to feel like your on your own with weight loss. To keep healthy into old age is worth it. We are much happier. We have never been so informed about health as we are today. There should be less obesity than was 30 years ago, not more!