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Articles > Rant January, 12, 2015

Bulging Britain: Would you like thighs with that?

Oliver Mason
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More than three times as many UK residents are obese now, than were 25 years ago. Around one in three children under 15 are overweight or obese. Weight-related conditions are responsible for more NHS expenditure than smoking for the first time in its 66 year history. And yet there are no emboldened newspaper headlines reading “STOP EATING BRITAIN!” Parliament is passing no legislature to curb this dilemma. We as a nation, simply do not care that we are fat.

It has been estimated that by 2050, more than half of the Great British public will be considered overweight. More immediately relevant than that; obesity currently costs the economy approximately £20bn a year. Never before has a person’s weight been labelled a disease, but now it seems that it is. Disease: A disorder of structure or function in the human body, not simply the result of direct physical injury. The stem of the problem is quite clear to see. Calorie-packed, highly fat-saturated food is too readily available for purchase. When three, 500kcal burgers can be bought from the high-street for the same price as a bag of apples from the supermarket, it’s no wonder the average brit opts for McDonalds rather than Morrisons’ salad bar.

Photo by Daniel Pascoal

Photo by Daniel Pascoal

A recent study in the USA (the only country in the world with a larger average waistline than the UK) found that even the most absurdly simple measures can influence consumers’ grocery-buying decisions. After clearly visible signs were erected near a high-sugar, drinks vending machine, 60% of vendees who would otherwise have downed a can of Coca Cola, chose to rehydrate themselves with water instead. The signs informed customers as to the energy content of drinks, but in an easy to understand format. For example “It takes a five-mile walk to burn of the 250 calories in this drink”. What this research shows, is that being aware of the consequences of consuming a calorific diet is a massive deterrent to consuming a calorific diet. If the masses could be educated in the art of calorie counting, evidence suggests that obesity rates would drop considerably.

Further to this, studies on the brain display that the centre related to addiction and reward lit up when study subjects were presented with unhealthy foods, whilst no light was seen when the testees were let loose on a salad. It’s no mystery why this happened. Due to our evolutionary heritage, our minds are hardwired to prefer a fattening menu to a slimming one, because the fatty food will provide us with greater energy reserves for leaner times.

What this neurostudy also proffers though, is that if calorific snacks are out of sight, they are out of mind. Translated to a real-world solution for our weighty problem, if supermarkets do not stock chocolate, you cannot buy it there, therefore you cannot eat it. This simple method of preventing the obesity crisis rather than curing it, is just one of many that could be implemented to subdue the worrying rate at which Britain’s waistline is rapidly swelling.

What’s your view? Do you have any tips on keeping healthy and dodging the unhealthy snacks?

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  1. Juveriah Ne

    People nowadays do not realize the importance of exercise and eating the right foods nowadays. Especially students who binge on takeaways all the time.

  2. Hamze awaleh

    i believe with the increasing and advance level of technology has blinded us from the importances of simply exercise like walking to the park and around with your dog.

  3. Hannah Robinson

    I am personally grateful for articles like this. People are just not educated about food to the extent they should be. It is shocking to discover how many people I know that do not know how to cook a simple dish- never mind the nutrition and the ins and outs of healthy eating otherwise. It is the high stats and figures at the start which are the eye-openers. Figures people need to read for their perspectives to change. In response to this article; I think that one of the major issues are costs- following the types of people in society. Of course there are a number of factors that contribute, however, although it can be done, it is difficult to live healthily on a low budget. It is cheaper to buy foods high in sugar and higher in fat- whereas it becomes extortionate for fresh fruit and vegetables and meat. Therefore people turn to ready meals and tinned processed products. Everything is fine in moderation. But the way society is moving now- everything revolves around money- therefore people work silly hours, nearly every day of the week. They simply do not have time to eat breakfast- the most important meal. ‘Dashboard Dining’ and ‘Deskfasts’ are extremely popular. There is no time to sit with a family to discuss and therefore its ultimately just going downhill. On the other side we just have the complete lazy pests that do nothing to control their eating habits, do no exercise and just east shit.

  4. Jonathan Seddon

    This is really informative and it would help if someone actually showed as if they cared about the health of the general public as foods these days are just becoming more and more calorific. These foods are so cheap and readily available to buy whereas fruit and veg isn’t the easiest thing to eat on the go. This country should follow the regime of France and have a 2 hour lunch break and work later so that people can sit down and eat a healthy meal.

  5. Jakob stern

    i love how we all just thing back win it was nerve like this ,it should be the same now we have pc;s and phones and car .life is going by fast but we need to slow down and think

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  6. Lucia Estephane

    A really good article. I do think it’s important to question the availability of junk food for secondary school students. There are around 4 cheap fast-food places within a 5 minute walk from my school. 6 chicken nuggets and chips for 99p? How can so few people question the quality of this food? I do think it’s really sad that some are brought up on this unhealthy food unaware of the risks its poses to their health and well-being.

  7. Edward Hawes

    My issue is that in regards to obesity everyone is grouped into the overweight boat. I’m underweight. It’s a medical thing, yet all the time I have to put up with new ‘healthier’ replacements to my products, which not only taste bad, but replace the sugar with fat or vice versa

    We need to recognise that there are 50% of the population who do not suffer from obesity, and try and deal with peoples eating mentality, rather than food itself

  8. Nicole Ryan

    Personally, I think eating a balanced diet is so crucial to leading a long fulfilled life. It does not mean you have to be thin, just eat a balance and not too much bad stuff.. On occasions it’s absolutely fine to eat takeaways for example just not all the time! Much of the obesity problems today are due to bad choices about food and eating proportions that are simply too large. Much of the time people eat when they are bored or thirsty rather than hungry. overeating and not exercising enough is leading to massive and increasing levels of obesity, being overweight to such an extent can cause vulnerability to preventable diseases and possibly lower the quality of life you have. For example if you are overweight you may find It more difficult to participate in activities which you may find enjoyable and it may cause problems with self esteem and therefore you may not participate in things. I also think that a lot more needs to be done to tackle obesity because it is beocming more and more of an issue with around 1 in 4 now obese in the UK!!

  9. millissa hicklin

    A lot of people can’t help becoming obese because either of conditions they have or the way they are brought up, to be honest the kind of fattening foods that most people buy shouldn’t be advertised as much to stop pressuring people onto buying them, therefore helping them become ones.

  10. Bea URBAH

    I find this article very interesting and important ! Eating healthy is essential and should be a priority. You don’t have to eat salad everyday but just not eat McDo and pizza all the time!
    But i have to say British sweets are delicious !!