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Beating Obesity Into Submission
Why are we unable to address the obesity problem in this country? We are not the only ones. America, Mexico, New Zealand, Hungary and Australia are equal or behind the UK in the fight against obesity. Obesity and the diseases it causes are well documented on television and the internet. Why is the message not getting through? The information is there.
The cultural shift towards fast food 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 in the UK back then.
“Apps” like “Hungary House” make it easy to order food. One click of the button on your mobile and you’re done. All you have to do is 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. The food your parents suggest to you sets your eating habits for life. If you have a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and meat early on, you are used to it. On the other hand, if you’re introduced to lots of sweet, high-sugar foods at a young age, that becomes your norm. Sugar, of course, has this added appeal to children. The sugar rush as well as the sweet taste is very hard to resist. Food markets know this and do everything to entice everyone, especially children. Sweets are always near the cash register, at a height that is right under the noses of the youngsters.
What can be done?
We are creatures of habit. It’s in our nature. Changing addictive habits like sugar or smoking is not easy to do. Advertisements that focused on the harmful effects of smoking changed people’s perspective. The vivid images of blood clotting from the end of a cigarette brought the unhealthy consequences home.
This kind of advertising applied to high sugar and salt intake could be powerful… but it needs to be a continuous campaign. The anti-smoking campaign has been going on for more than 20 years. The “truth” campaign to eliminate teen smoking in the United States began in 1999. The teen smoking rate was 23% at the time. In 2016 the number dropped to 6%.
The government should invest in the anti-sugar campaign. The NHS is facing even more pressure when it comes to patients with food-related illnesses.
With steady population growth, the next 50 years could be a healthcare nightmare. It could be avoided, but only with the will to do something about it.
Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, cancer, depression and anxiety. Severely obese people are three times more likely to need social care than those of normal weight. This includes hospitalization and associated health and social care costs.
The NHS estimated the cost of obesity for 2006/7 at £5.1 billion. The costs are for obesity medication, the increasing use of bariatric surgery and new equipment to accommodate older people.
Education is the key
My son is a personal trainer. He runs what are known as “Weight Shift Classes”. It is interesting what he has to say from his experience in delivering these courses.
He says: “We like to keep a variety of exercises to keep the interest there. One week, it’ll be pull-ups and presses, shoulder presses and leg presses. The next week it’ll be more cardio-based with some free weights like kettlebells. and kettlebells and kettlebells. Another week could be kettlebells and TRX in a circuit training format. It’s still weight based, but you keep the intensity up and the heart rate up.
She says of the diet, “I really try to educate them about how bad sugar is and a lot of ‘carby’ foods.. a lot of pasta, rice, chocolate candy, carbonated drinks. The number one reason for obesity is sugar. They don’t watch and measure what they eat, but give them an understanding of what they put in their bodies. Whether or not they change their diet is up to them. I’m just planting the seed in their mind, giving them the knowledge they need, so they have a choice to either follow it or not.”
Do you measure their weight loss?
Yes, we weigh regularly. Typically, the customers who see improvements are the ones who stay with the program. I have clients who have listened to what I have advised and seen good results. At the same time I gave advice to other clients and they found it harder to follow.
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 2kg per week over a 3-4 month period is a huge loss. About 1¾ stone.
Are you looking at their body fat percentage?
Yes, very important to look at body fat percentage, not just body weight loss. If you weigh 60 pounds, you have to ask the question, 60 pounds of what? You can break it down into body fat, muscle mass, bone density and water retention. We can measure all of these so you can actually see all the parts that make up the whole body weight. So we focus much more on body fat, because you can lose muscle mass. That would be unhealthy. This is why we focus on weight training to maintain muscle mass.. and encourage high protein intake to maintain muscle mass.
So after say 6 months, surely your clients should be able to get out on their own without your help?
Surely, 6 months later, you would have learned so much, you would have experimented with different exercises, you would have recorded the exercises, so you have to follow them. Over 6 months you would do these exercises so many times, it would be like second nature.. So after so long you don’t have to stay baby anymore, you know what to do, you can go out on your own, so it’s kind of like a life lesson.
So you don’t encourage people to starve themselves to lose weight?
“Oh no, starving yourself is like a quick fix, but it’s quite damaging to the body. You have to look at food as fuel. It’s like putting wood on a fire. It will keep your blood burning fuel. The fire burns, your metabolism drops. Keep your metabolism high and you’ll burn calories all day long. Look at body builders, they burn calories all the time, but they’re never hungry, but they have almost no body fat.”
Keeping the weight off takes dedication, determination and self-discipline.
With a little help from knowledgeable professionals, it’s very doable. It takes self-motivation to achieve your weight loss goals. Today there is so much help from places like YouTube and online articles. You never have to feel like you’re alone with your weight loss. It is worth it to maintain your health into old age. We are much happier. We have never been as informed about health as we are today. There should be less obesity than there was 30 years ago, not more!
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