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Posts tagged ‘Public health policy’

Why we have an obesity problem Part #2

A while back I posted Why we have an obesity problem.

If that was Part #1, this is Part #2.

I was visiting my local Post Office the other day. It’s a busy little sub-Post Office counter built at the back of a neighbourhood convenience store, as many Post Office counters are these days. It’s almost always busy, and customers form a queue along one of the aisles of the shop. Here is the view as I stood in the aisle awaiting my turn to be served.

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Great, ‘the £1 zone’ is right there, where folks who just want to post a parcel or buy some stamps or apply for a drivers licence, have to stand and wait to be served.

I grabbed a packet of cookies and turned them over to see the nutrition label.

Check this out:

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This twin-pack of ‘vanilla flavoured cookies with chocolate chips’ weighs 400 grams net weight. As you can see, the cookies deliver 495 calories per 100g. In round numbers, this is 2000 calories – for £1. (For my readers outside the UK, at current rates, £1 sterling is €1.14 Euros, or $1.29 USD at current, Feb 2019, exchange rates.)

2000 calories is the recommended daily intake for an adult female in the UK, wishing to maintain body weight (not gain or lose).

2000 calories, your entire daily intake, for £1.

Let’s just check the ingredients label to see what these cookies are made of.

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Now, remember the way an ingredients list works – the items are listed in descending order, from the item that makes up the greatest percentage of the contents, down to the minor items listed last.

These cookies are made of – refined wheat flour, palm oil, sugar, chocolate chips (which are made of sugar and more palm oil) and then some coca butter and then lesser items.

Broken out by macronutrient, the 2000 calories in this £1 pack consist of:

  • Just over 50% sugar – 262 calories of carbs out of 495 calories per 100g. (Carbohydrates contain around 4.1 calories per gram.) They list “of which sugars” as a sub-set of the carbohydrate, but given that the ‘non-sugar’ is just refined wheat flour, once inside your intestines it is broken down and absorbed as glucose just the same as the refined sugar, so to your blood, to your metabolism, it’s all sugar. Out of 2000 calories – approx 1060 calories of sugar
  • After the flour and refined sugar, the only other substantial ingredient is the palm oil (not the best thing to be eating) which contribute the overwhelming majority of the calories from fats in this product. (Fats contain around 9 calories per gram.) SO we get around 212 calories of fat (palm oil) per 100g. Approximately 43% of this product is fat
  • Out of the total 2000 calories in the pack…it’s 53% sugar, and 43% fat – and that fat is not a healthy fat like you get in fresh fish, olive oil or avocado, that’s fat from palm oil
  • As for this ‘food product’ providing any possible health benefits…like vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids…forget it

We have an obesity problem in this country, and that problem is a burden that is unfairly heaped onto low income families, and this is a big part of what is causing that problem. Crap food, refined sugar, refined plant oils, and cheap processed grains, are everywhere – cheap food, easy to buy, in our faces, tempting, tasty, packed and displayed to make our kids nag and pester for it.

While 90% of people I meet say they “can’t afford to buy organic” fruits and vegetables, but convenience stores are punting 2000 calories of sugar and fat for just £1, we are never going to solve the problem.

Public Health England needs to sort this out. Food manufacturers and mass market retailers are one of the most potent forces driving the obesity problem in the UK, and there can be no doubt that the abundant availability of cheap sugar is also exacerbating the type-2 diabetes problem too. This puts an increasing burden of poor health on to poorer families – the government should be subsidising bloody fish and vegetables, and taxing the hell out of sugar and palm oil. Clearly, with 2000 calories on sale for £1 (how do they even do that? The cost of overheads, the packaging, the shelf space, the store staff???) this is not happening, and we have a food system that enabled unscrupulous manufacturers and retailers to dump a mass of cheap, health-damaging ‘food products’ on to the market without any sugar taxes or other barriers to stop them.

Shame on you Public Health England.
Shame on you UK govt.
Shame on you food manufacturers.
Shame on you major food retailers.
Shame on all of you. Our NHS cannot afford to treat this burden forever. We have to rebuild a country that understands ‘prevention is better than cure’.

 

Free help for those who want it…

One of my goals since I started Mother Nature’s Diet has always been to help as many people as possible for free.

I honestly believe that good health is our birthright, and it should not be something we have to pay for.

I think ‘they‘ have made the world of diet, weight loss, healthy living, ageing, fitness, disease prevention and other related areas, all so super-complicated in recent decades.

They spent years telling us that fat is bad, then fat is good and sugar is bad. They told everyone to go running, then they say everyone has knee and back problems from running, and we should all be lifting weights. Cholesterol is bad, no no cholesterol is fine. Too much sugar causes diabetes…no no there is no evidence that sugar causes diabetes. They contradict, and they argue, the so-called experts, over everything.

And if you read The Daily Fail or certain other newspapers, then over the years they have run headlines telling you just about everything causes cancer or heart disease or makes you fat!

It’s all so bloody confusing. And all so bloody frustrating!

  • I personally spent 20 years lost in that confusion
  • I yo-yo dieted as I tried every fad, followed every trend, read all the diet books
  • I ended up overweight, confused, and with knackered knees (yes, it was the running!!)

So, out of this confusion, the ‘health guru industry’ has emerged (ummm, maybe I am a part of that…whaddya reckon?) and suddenly we are told the answers we are searching for are in this £99 pound diet plan called “The 7 Magic Secrets to weight loss”, or the answers are in the £39 per month gym plan “Total New Body” or such like, or you just have to sign up a mere £397 for this 6-month group coaching course and all will become clear to you as they reveal “the secrets the doctors don’t want you to know” or whatever. You know, there’s lots of this stuff out there, I’ll bet you’ve seen the adverts.

And that’s OK, I guess, these folks are all just trying to earn a living, just like me, and so good luck to ’em. Providing they are selling something genuine, and providing it works, at least for some people, then I guess that’s OK. But here at Mother Nature’s Diet, I see things a little differently.

I don’t think you should have to pay to learn the basics, to have the basic knowledge of how to be healthy. I don’t think there are any ‘secrets’ or ‘magic formula’ – I think that most people need a little guidance, to cut through the dietary and nutritional confusion, and then there is just common sense, personal responsibility, and good old fashioned hard work.

For that basic knowledge, I don’t think people should have to pay. They should teach this stuff at schools, leisure centres, health centres and pharmacies around the country, for free. Because there are a lot of folks out there who can’t afford to pay.

Bottom of the income ladder

Sadly, the reality of our society is, that Read more

The many reasons why we seem to be losing the fight against rising obesity

As I have written before, the classic weight loss advice to ‘eat less, move more’ has fallen from popularity in recent years. Frankly, those of us in this industry still promoting ‘eat less, move more’ as relevant advice in the face of the rising obesity epidemic are seen as rather outdated, rather old-school. As I have also written before, I do believe that the advice should be updated to ‘eat less, eat better, and move more’ which rather improves on, and corrects, the original expression.

But still, it’s far more current to besmirch all that old school talk as being fattist, as lacking understanding, as being outdated, outmoded and out-of-touch. It’s considered politically incorrect these days to suggest that obesity is on the rise because people eat too much and don’t exercise enough, and indeed it’s now becoming popular to say that any so-called health professional preaching such ancient wisdom is poorly educated and lacking in sympathy and understanding for the victims of the root causes of rising obesity.

To suggest that obese people ‘just eat less and move more’ is now seen as being about as constructive and helpful as telling a depressed person to ‘just get over it and cheer up a bit’. It’s now fashionable and politically correct to see obesity as an eating disorder, and to say that anyone preaching ‘eat less, move more’ is guilty of the most heinous of 21st century crimes – fat shaming.

In our complex modern world, with obesity growing at an alarming rate (or is that just changes to the system of classification?) there are many factors we can blame for rising obesity.

I could go on, but I think that’s enough for now.

All of these factors are relevant, they all play a role, they are all true, all valid, ALL OF THEM account for why some people are overweight, and all of them matter. I am not disagreeing with any one of the thigns on that list, or a dozen more, such as the role of environmental pollution, the rise in the number of TV channels, the role of anti-obesity attitudes in our society, the availability and nutritional content of school lunches, the increase in sugar content in foods, and so on and so on.

But here’s the thing. Read more

Brexit and booze

Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about politics! I’ll keep my views on Brexit to myself.

This is the first in a series of posts that will eventually come together as a short series on “ignoring the elephant in the room” and as the series builds, you’ll see how the posts all connect together, to highlight ‘gross national stupidity’ and the ignorance our media perpetuates by spreading lies and misinformation.

£350m per week for our NHS

As surely everyone in the country can remember, during the Brexit campaign, the Leave campaign drove around Britain in a bus touting the slogan “We send the EU £350 million per week, let’s fund our NHS instead. Vote Leave”

Brexit bus

This was one of the cornerstone arguments of the Leave campaign – stop giving money to the EU, and give it to the NHS instead.

This post is not about politics, but you may have followed in the news how this £350m GBP promise has been pulled apart and rubbished…the £350m figure does not account for Britain’s EU rebate, it’s a gross figure not a net figure, and it fails to account for everything our nation gains in return for EU membership. Scholars have largely proven that in fact, once the UK leaves the EU, there will be zero surplus cash available for the NHS, quite a lot less that £350m per week.

At this stage, at time of writing, there is no sense exploring that issue any further because:

  • Until the Brexit negotiations are complete, nothing is certain and we can’t know whether the UK economy is going to be better off or worse off
  • That’s not the point of this post

What’s this got to do with health?

Read more