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Britain is a flabulous place to live! #obesityawareness @noaw2014

ObesityBigger isn’t always better, especially where our health is concerned. This week is National Obesity Awareness Week and it seems as a nation our waistlines are continuing to expand at an alarming rate.

A new report by the National Obesity Forum has revealed the worrying news that, if things carry on as they are, over half the UK’s population will be obese by the year 2050. According to separate research by Public Health England, around 60% of men, 50% of women and 25% of children could be obese within 36 years.

This would put the annual cost to the nation at £50 billion in terms of healthcare and support services.

Cardiologist, Dr Asseem Malhotra, has pointed out that “… obesity represents the greatest threat to health worldwide, with poor diet contributing to more disease than physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol combined.”

Being obese can have serious health consequences

It’s therefore time for people to take obesity seriously and start acting to try to prevent or reduce it. There have been several hard-hitting campaigns aimed at stopping smoking over the years which have shown some unpleasant images of clogged arteries and diseased lungs. Perhaps now is the time for people to see the severe effects that being obese can have – for example: type 2 diabetes which can result in kidney dialysis, amputations of toes, feet and even legs, blindness and breathing difficulties; High blood pressure which can lead to heart disease and stroke; The risk of osteoarthritis due to excessive weight on the skeleton; Fatty liver disease; some cancers; gall stones; reproductive and urological problems etc.

Watching a programme showing a young man on a dialysis machine on account of his obesity should certainly be an incentive to ensure that this doesn’t happen to you.

Tackling obesity head-on – what we can do

How can we tackle the obesity problem ourselves? For starters there are plenty of ideas on the National Obesity Awareness Website which says that small changes can make a big difference. For instance: walking sometimes instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, finding an exercise you really enjoy doing (as you’ll be more likely to stick to it), cutting down on alcohol, cutting down on salt and sugar, cooking from scratch instead of buying ready-meals or takeaways, drinking more water…

Other ways we can prevent our weight from spiralling are by controlling portion sizes, cutting down on sugar and salt and trans fats, and making healthy swaps, such as a piece of fruit in place of a chocolate bar. Fruit in itself is healthy but, as with everything else, it should be eaten in moderation – it’s better to eat fruit on its own than chug down endless glasses of fruit juice. Did you know, for example, that a glass of freshly pressed apple juice contains almost the same amount of sugar as a fizzy drink due to the fructose content?

Food labelling

Paying attention to the labelling on food packaging is essential if you are trying to shift some weight. Just because something says it is ‘light’ or ‘low fat’ it doesn’t follow that it’s the best option. To be able to claim a product is ‘light’ or ‘lite’, it must be at least 30% lower in one of the typical values than the standard product. However the original product might be extremely high in those values. You can often find that e.g. a regular frozen lasagne has less calories/fat/ carbohydrate per 100g of product than a different brand which is claiming to be a ‘healthy’ version of its standard lasagne.

Creative Legal Labelling Course

There are new EU and UK Food Information Regulations which have tightened up on health and nutrition claims and provide advice on the use of marketing terms such as ‘natural’, ‘fresh’ and ‘pure’ etc. If you’re involved in the marketing and product management of packaged food, you might be interested in our Creative Legal Labelling course, which will tell you everything you need to know about the new regulations and how they affect your own company’s packaging requirements. Tutored by food labelling specialists, the next course takes place in Skipton on 7th and 8th April. Click here to find out more.