Statistics issued in May 2018 reveal that Malta has the highest rate of child obesity in Europe, the highest rate of type II diabetes and the lowest level of activity (1).
Similarly, UK stats for 2017 show that 617 thousand admissions in NHS hospitals were obesity-related. And in 2016, 26 per cent of British adults were considered obese (2).
How does it compare to 50 years ago?
In the 60s only one per cent of men and two per cent of women were considered obese in the UK (3).
The major differences are attributed to a more sedentary lifestyle and a higher consumption of processed foods. Despite the fact that in the 60s gyms were hardly heard of, people were significantly more active. They walked more and spent less time in front of TVs and computers. Children played active games as opposed to hours spent on a tablet and ready-made foods were hard to come by. The majority of households cooked their meals from scratch, using fresh products. People’s diets were not full of preservatives and dining out was an occasional treat.
Another factor that contributed towards weight gain is food portions. The average dinner plate in the 60s had a diameter of 7-9 inches (17.78-22.86 centimetres). Nowadays, plates have a diameter of 11-12 inches (27.94-30.48 centimetres) in Europe and 13 inches (33.02 centimetres) in America (4).
Public Health vs Votes?
Do you think it’s time Governments take serious action? In the same way taxes were imposed and regulations enforced on cigarettes and alcohol, it may be high time something’s done about the amount of junk food consumed.
If there is more awareness about the consequences of fat, sugar and salt in junk food and ready-made meals and if fresh food is more affordable, maybe people will be in a better position to make healthier choices.
Why are fast food chains allowed to be become richer and the average tax payer has to foot the bill of obesity-related diseases? Why doesn’t junk food packaging come with sickening images, similar to the ones found on cigarette packets? Should junk food companies be allowed to brainwash children and youngsters thanks to their strong marketing position?
In the UK, Jamie Oliver is campaigning to control the advertising of junk food, especially for children (5). You would think it’s in the interest of Governments to promote the health of its citizens by making fresh food more affordable.
No; I’m not kidding myself into thinking that if junk food is more expensive than healthy food, people will make an overnight change – they won’t. Besides, as we’ve seen above, there are various factors that lead to obesity. Junk food is just one of them. However, in a similar way awareness and levies brought down smoking rates (6), serious campaigns, taxes on junk food (including ready-made foods) and subsidies of good fresh food, may lead to health improvement.
What do you think?
My thanks go to:
(2) NHS Digital
(3) The Telegraph
Infographic thanks to Gastrosurgeon.com