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Beating Obesity Into Submission
Why are we unable to tackle the obesity problem in this country. We are not the only ones. America, Mexico, New Zealand, Hungary and Australia are equal or behind Britain in the fight against obesity. Obesity and the diseases it causes are well documented on TV and online. Why is the message not getting through? The information is there.
Cultural shift towards fast food has had a huge impact on our eating habits. 30 to 40 years ago, fast food was only available in fish and chip shops. McDonald’s first started in Britain back then.
‘Apps’ like ‘Hungary House’ make ordering food so easy. One click of the button on your mobile and you’re done. You just have to make an effort to get off the couch and walk to the front door. Such hard work!
Eating habits are the key to healthy eating. It starts from the day you are born. What food your parents introduce to you determines your eating habits for life. If you have a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables and meat early on, you get used to it. If you go the other way, if you are introduced to lots of sweet, high sugar foods at a young age, this becomes your norm. Sugar, of course, has the added attraction for children. The sugar rush and sweet taste are too hard to resist. Food markets know this and go out of their way to tempt everyone, especially children. Candy is always near the box, at a height where it is right under the nose of young people.
What can be done?
We are creatures of habit. It is in our nature. It is not easy to change addictive habits like sugar or smoking. Advertisements focused on the harmful effects of smoking changed people’s views. Sharp images of blood clots from the end of a cigarette brought home the unhealthy effects.
This kind of advertising applied to high sugar and salt intake could be powerful… but it needs to be a sustained campaign. The campaign against smoking has been going on for over 20 years. The ‘Truth’ campaign aimed at eliminating teenage smoking in the US started in 1999. Teenage smoking was 23% at the time. In 2016, the figure was down to 6%.
The government needs to invest in the campaign against sugar. The NHS is facing even more pressure in relation to patients with food-related illness.
With the population constantly increasing, the next 50 years could be a nightmare for the healthcare system. 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 people are three times more likely to require social care than normal weight people. This includes hospitalization and the associated health and social costs.
The NHS estimated the cost of obesity for 2006/7 to be £5.1 billion. The costs account for obesity medications, increasing use of bariatric surgery and new equipment to accommodate larger people.
Education is the key
My son is a personal trainer. He runs what are known as ‘Weight Change Classes’. It is interesting what he has to say from his experience in 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 the heart rate up.
He says about diet, “I really try to educate them about how bad sugar is and too much ‘carby’ food.. too much pasta, rice, chocolate candy, soda. The number one cause of obesity is sugar. don’t monitor and measure what they eat but give them an understanding of what they put in 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 for, so that they have a choice either to follow it or not”.
Do you measure their weight loss?
Yes, we weigh regularly. Typically, the clients who see improvement are the ones who stick with the program. I have clients who have listened to what I have advised and they have seen great results. At the same time, I have given advice to other clients, and they have found it more challenging to stick to it.
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 goal of 2 pounds per week over a period of 3-4 months is a big loss. About 1¾ stone.
Do you look at their body fat percentage?
Yes, very important to look at body fat percentage, not just losing body weight. If you weigh 60 kg, you have to ask the question, 60 kg of what? You can break it down into body fat, muscle mass, bone density and water retention. We can measure all of that so you actually see all the parts that make up the whole body weight. So we focus a lot more on the body fat because you might lose muscle mass. That would be unhealthy. This is why we focus on weight training to maintain muscle mass.. that and encourage a high protein intake to maintain muscle mass.
So after e.g. 6 months, surely your customers should be able to go out on their own without your help?
Sure, 6 months later, you would have learned so much, experimented with different exercises, recorded the exercises so you have them to follow. In 6 months you would have done these exercises so many times it would be second nature..So after so long you don’t need to be a baby anymore, 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 it’s pretty damaging to the body. You have to look at food like it’s fuel. It’s like putting wood on a fire. It’ll keep your blood fuel burning. The fire burns out. , your metabolism slows down. Keep your metabolism high and you’ll burn calories all day long. Look at bodybuilders, they’re constantly burning calories, but they’re never hungry, but they have almost no body fat”.
Keeping the weight off takes dedication, self-determination and self-discipline.
With a little help from well-informed professionals, it is very possible. 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 alone with weight loss. Staying healthy in old age is worth it. We are much happier. We have never been as informed about health as we are today. There should be less obesity than 30 years ago, not more!
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