Nutri Advanced Nutritional Therapist Rachel Bartholomew reviews The Obesity Epidemic, a campaign created to raise awareness of one of the biggest public health challenges facing the UK today. The Obesity Epidemic was included in The Guardian on 15th June 2018 and featured a contribution from Nutri Advanced founder, Ken Eddie.
The typical Western diet and lifestyle, loaded with sugar, inactivity and stress, doesn’t get much good press and rightly so. Nowhere else are the devastating health effects of the Western diet quite so immediately visible as in the obesity epidemic. And as with any epidemic, there are no boundaries; the negative health effects filter across all ages, and alarming statistics such as ‘one in four children are now overweight’ lose their power to shock as they become the norm. We are sailing right into the eye of an obesity storm and for the first time ever it has even been suggested that life expectancy of our children’s generation may well be lower than ours.
So What Can Be Done?
Raising awareness is the first step towards any change and last week The Guardian newspaper featured an 8-page supplement on ‘The Obesity Epidemic’ to help do just that. Experts across healthcare businesses and charities joined together to raise awareness, talk about the growing problem and highlight the different ways we can influence change.
Nutri Advanced founder and managing director, Ken Eddie was featured in the supplement and said,
“We are overfed but undernourished. The Western diet is typically low in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, yet includes high levels of refined, processed and sugary foods. This creates a paradox where many people eat a high calorie diet but consume few essential nutrients.”
Raising awareness of the growing problem is the first step, actually making changes is the second. And this can be a real challenge when trying to change Western dietary habits that have become embedded over a lifetime and are passed from one generation to the next. Ken Eddie suggested that a structured weight management programme can be useful to help break this vicious cycle,
“There are also weight management programmes available that usually consist of 30 days’ worth of supplements. Programmes are great for breaking eating habits as they encourage people to change their lifestyles and form new, healthier eating routines.”
Helping people to access healthy ways to lose weight is just one of the targeted actions that’s needed to change the current course. Caroline Cerny, spokesperson for Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of over 40 health charities, medical royal colleges and campaign groups, working together to tackle obesity through evidence-based policy, highlighted how difficult it is for people, especially children, to make healthy food decisions,
“It’s often difficult to make healthy choices with relentless promotion of readily-available, unhealthy food.”
She believes that “prevention is key”, and we need to see action on a wider scale to help influence healthy rather than unhealthy food choices by:
• Closing existing loopholes to restrict children’s exposure to junk food marketing across all the media they are exposed to.
• Addressing the types of price promotions which encourage unhealthy buying choices.
• Taking action to ensure everyday food is healthier by incrementally reducing sugar, saturated fat and salt as well as overall calories with ambitious targets.
Wise Words Indeed
Perhaps what’s most evident is that a collective effort is needed to change the course of the obesity ship. Change needs to happen both on an individual and a wider global level and businesses especially need to take some responsibility for public health. If everyone does their bit to raise awareness and influence change for good, who knows, we may well be able to navigate towards calmer waters and a happier, healthier future. We certainly hope so.
• Nearly one in four children enter primary school with a weight status classed as overweight or obese.
• This rises to one in three when they enter secondary school
• Based on current trends, half of all children will be obese or overweight by 2020.
• Almost two thirds of adults in England are overweight or obese.
• Excess weight is directly associated with serious health problems including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancer.
• The direct cost to the NHS of treating health conditions linked to obesity is estimated to be at least £6.1 billion a year.
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