The obesity equation is not as simple as many would have us believe, and it is not as I read the other day where it was described as, ‘Greediness + Laziness = Fatness’. Of course, we have to take some responsibility for occasionally overindulging, and sitting on the sofa watching TV when we could be outside walking in the park, but this is only part of the story. There is a lot more to the obesity epidemic than meets the eye. If it were as simple as cutting back on our food and moving a little more, then I am confident that we wouldn’t be in our current predicament, where two out of three British adults are overweight!
I firmly believe that most people who are overweight or obese have just become trapped in what I call the vicious obesity circle. It revolves like this: big food corporations, just like the cigarette companies, fill their produce with ingredients that are addictive. We see the misleading adverts, showing beautifully fit and healthy people consuming these goods, and go out and purchase them. The more we buy, the more the supermarkets feature them in what they call ‘end caps’ and at the checkout, which further leads to more purchases. We then consume all these unhealthy products and get fatter, but as we are still exposed to the adverts of slim models pretending to eat them, we assume it can’t be their produce that is making us fat... so we carry on buying. The government at this point are earning loads of tax from the sales and therefore either turn a blind eye, or even worse sometimes endorse the wrong stuff!
How do we bring a halt to the vicious obesity circle? We need to get a better understanding of what makes us healthy and what does not, and then tell the big corporates where to stick their evil produce. We need to kick their CARBS and sugary produce into touch. Together we need to stop buying their hugely profitable packaged foods stuffed full of dangerous oils and infused with chemicals. Breaking the vicious obesity circle will mean that I won’t get to write another book, but it will mean our kids will all live longer, happier and healthier lives.
Jen Whitington, the author of the brilliant book Fixing Dad, writes, “So do we still believe that the responsibility for this disease [type 2 diabetes] lies with the individual sufferers or do we share Professor McGregor’s opinion that it lies as much if not more with the food industry? Or is it that the government has seriously let us down? After all, how many people knew that government nutritional guidelines had, for years, been funded by industry and had nothing to do with World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations?”
As mentioned above, when I was born in 1966 only 11% of the British public were overweight and only 1.5% were obese. Today those numbers have risen to 64% being overweight and 28% obese. The average weight of an adult in the UK is approximately 2.5 stone heavier than it was 50 years ago. If we keep expanding our waistline at this rate, a few generations from now everyone in Britain will weigh more than 30 stone!
Now here is an interesting thought. With more than half of the British population being overweight, should we not recalibrate the scales and change what constitutes as overweight? Currently, if more than 25% of our body mass is fat, we are described as overweight, and if it is more than 30%, we are obese. Some people are suggesting that as we are now so fat as a nation, it is the time to change the qualifying criteria. But I believe we shouldn’t! Make no bones about it: being overweight shortens lives. Being overweight can cause diabetes, cancer and much more. We must not just accept this epidemic. We must not simply accept the unacceptable.
We have increased our weight more in the past 50 years than the previous 1 million! If our primal ancestors had put on weight at the same rate as we have over the last two generations, each human would weigh more than the planet itself! Of course, that’s nonsense, but it demonstrates that something has gone very wrong in recent decades and something must be done about it.