The Royal College of Physicians chose 1st January 2013 to release its report on obesity, calling for improved leadership throughout the NHS and from government bodies in order to tackle the epidemic, including the resulting increase in demand for healthcare.
A press release on the RCP website (1) states that “The rate of obesity in the UK is amongst the highest in the world, exceeded only by the USA. Approximately 25% of UK adults are obese and it is estimated that the majority of Britain’s population will be obese by 2050. The cost of dealing with the adverse consequences of obesity is estimated to be £5 billion per year.”
Like many people, I also chose yesterday to consider matters of weight, health and fitness in general, and to make some resolutions for the year ahead. Recently I’ve been toying with the Eat to Live diet devised by US physician Dr Joel Fuhrman (2), and now I have decided to commit. Essentially this is a low-fat, wholegrain, plant-based diet that excludes all refined carbohydrates and fats, including oils and hard fats. Here are the basic rules:
- Fresh fruit
- Vegetables (inc. sea vegetables)
- Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
- Herbs and spices
- Nuts and seeds (including coconut)
- Dried fruit
- Starchy vegetables, esp. white potatoes
- Animal products
- Hard fats and oils
- Refined (white) flour
- White/polished rice
- Refined sugar/sweeteners
So, today I went for a little walk around my hospital in search of something suitable to eat. I visited one canteen, one cafe and two shops and found precisely this:
- A few slightly squishy satsumas
- Some very small bags of grapes (priced at £1.50)
- Jacket potatoes (no toppings)
- Bottled water
What I did find in abundance were crisps, sweets, chocolates, fizzy drinks, biscuits, chips, baked beans, meat and dairy-filled sandwiches, cakes… need I go on? Whole walls of salt, sugar and fat-laden foods. In the light of yesterdays report, this situation is desperate.
The strongest messages on obesity being sent by the NHS to members of the public at present are the images that greet them when they walk through the doors of its many establishments. Sadly, floor to ceiling junk food speaks louder than any report. Physicians and other healthcare professionals need to put their own houses in order before they do anything else.
1. Royal College of Physicians Press Release: NHS must step up to obesity challenge:
http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/press-releases/nhs-must-step-obesity-challenge Accessed on 2nd January 2013.
2. Dr Fuhrman: http://www.drfuhrman.com/ Accessed on 2nd January 2013