Coffee House Spectator Health

Stopping the obesity juggernaut will be a real legacy for our children

23 July 2014

2:29 PM

23 July 2014

2:29 PM

Rather ironically, the best analogy I can summon to describe my appointment and role with Policy Exchange as senior research fellow on Obesity and Physical Activity is an enormous buffet made up of your favourite food. The problem would be deciding where to start and then knowing when to stop. Sadly, the obesity and inactivity pandemic heading our way is larger and more intimidating than the dream buffet.

It was while reading the October 2007 Foresight report, ‘Tackling Obesities: future choices‘, that I became acutely aware of the juggernaut heading in our direction. The paper predicted that by 2050 three in five adult men, half of all adult women and a quarter of our children under 16 could be obese. The attributable costs to the NHS would be in the region of £10bn a year; the wider costs to society almost £50bn.

Today’s children are the first generation to have lower life expectancy than their parents, as childhood obesity worldwide has nearly doubled since 1980. According to World Health Organisation data:-

‘No country has recorded a significant fall in obesity since 1980. The most rapid rises are in rich, developed countries.’

I find it distressing that the pandemic of physical inactivity, high fat, salt and sugar diet has led to obesity and excess weight becoming the ‘new norm’ throughout Europe.

[Alt-Text]


Preventing obesity is a societal challenge, similar to climate change. It requires partnership between government, science, business and civil society. I’m as guilty as the next person of using the tried and trusted ‘ostrich technique’ when confronting a problem. But burying our heads in the sand isn’t going to effect the change we need as a society.

My favourite quote is one by Abraham Lincoln who said, ‘If I had five hours in which to chop down a tree I’d spend three sharpening the axe.’ We may have missed most of our axe sharpening window; but small behavioural and practical changes will have a significant effect. The consequences, both positive and negative, are going to be felt by every level of society, both economically and physiologically, because the problem impacts every socio economic group and every age group.

During my time at Policy Exchange I will analyse the effectiveness of the numerous national and international initiatives, policies and projects, learn lessons from them, and make robust suggestions to policy stakeholders to deliver change.

Where to start? By encouraging young children into good eating and activity habits. At the moment one in five children are obese when they start school and one in three children are obese when they leave primary school, of which 82 per cent will be obese adults. It’s not only their health that suffers. The correct balance of diet and activity will boost concentration levels and, by extension, educational performance.

The same performance and productivity is vital in the workplace, whether it’s a private company or the public sector, and we need to make it easy and ‘natural’ for people to make the right choice when it comes to food and physical activity.

And we can’t have a situation where senior citizens (in our ageing society) have to choose between travelling to and from a leisure centre or buying food and heating their house.

The most powerful motivation for change is that the healthier we are, the more we’ll enjoy our lives and our children’s lives. Since London 2012 the word ‘legacy’ has been overused; but tackling the obesity problem is the best legacy we can leave the next generation. I’ll end with a statistic. Team GB finished a brilliant 3rd in the medal table at London 2012; but Britain’s women are 1st and men 2nd in the European Obesity League Table.

James Cracknell is leading Policy Exchange’s work on obesity and physical activity. Click here for more details.

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Show comments
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    • admasellia

      My name is ADMAS ELLIA and i want to testify of the good work done by a
      faithful man DR OFURE a spell caster in my life i never thought there is
      such thing as spiritual intercession. my problem started 5 months back
      when the father of my kids started putting up some strange behaviour, i
      never knew he was having an affair outside our matrimonial home. it dawn
      on me on that faithful day 4th of April 20st 2:23pm when he came to the
      house to pick his things, that was when i knew that situation has
      gotten out of hand and he then told me he want to quit the marriage
      which i have built for over 6 years, i was confused and dumbfounded i
      called on family’s and friends but to no avail. two months after i
      started having problem with my kids welfare, rent-age and all of it, i
      really went through hair. until a day i was browsing on the internet and
      i happen to meet DR OFRUE, i never believed on this but i needed my man
      back so i gave the spell caster my problem at first i never trusted him
      so i was just doing it but you know a problem shared is half solved
      after 2das my husband called me Telling me that he his coming back home
      and that was all. now we are living happily as husband and wife, i still
      can believe it just too real to be real it highly unbelievable on this
      great joy for those of you that are going through heart broke or any
      kind of problem i must tell you this great man has the power to solve
      any problem hear is the great man email:OFURELOVESPELL@GMAIL.COM or you call +2348149158514

  • admasellia

    My name is ADMAS ELLIA and i want to testify of the good work done by a
    faithful man DR OFURE a spell caster in my life i never thought there is
    such thing as spiritual intercession. my problem started 5 months back
    when the father of my kids started putting up some strange behaviour, i
    never knew he was having an affair outside our matrimonial home. it dawn
    on me on that faithful day 4th of April 20st 2:23pm when he came to the
    house to pick his things, that was when i knew that situation has
    gotten out of hand and he then told me he want to quit the marriage
    which i have built for over 6 years, i was confused and dumbfounded i
    called on family’s and friends but to no avail. two months after i
    started having problem with my kids welfare, rent-age and all of it, i
    really went through hair. until a day i was browsing on the internet and
    i happen to meet DR OFRUE, i never believed on this but i needed my man
    back so i gave the spell caster my problem at first i never trusted him
    so i was just doing it but you know a problem shared is half solved
    after 2das my husband called me Telling me that he his coming back home
    and that was all. now we are living happily as husband and wife, i still
    can believe it just too real to be real it highly unbelievable on this
    great joy for those of you that are going through heart broke or any
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    any problem hear is the great man email:OFURELOVESPELL@GMAIL.COM or you call +2348149158514 ,

  • admasellia

    My name is ADMAS ELLIA and i want to testify of the good work done by a
    faithful man DR OFURE a spell caster in my life i never thought there is
    such thing as spiritual intercession. my problem started 5 months back
    when the father of my kids started putting up some strange behaviour, i
    never knew he was having an affair outside our matrimonial home. it dawn
    on me on that faithful day 4th of April 20st 2:23pm when he came to the
    house to pick his things, that was when i knew that situation has
    gotten out of hand and he then told me he want to quit the marriage
    which i have built for over 6 years, i was confused and dumbfounded i
    called on family’s and friends but to no avail. two months after i
    started having problem with my kids welfare, rent-age and all of it, i
    really went through hair. until a day i was browsing on the internet and
    i happen to meet DR OFRUE, i never believed on this but i needed my man
    back so i gave the spell caster my problem at first i never trusted him
    so i was just doing it but you know a problem shared is half solved
    after 2das my husband called me Telling me that he his coming back home
    and that was all. now we are living happily as husband and wife, i still
    can believe it just too real to be real it highly unbelievable on this
    great joy for those of you that are going through heart broke or any
    kind of problem i must tell you this great man has the power to solve
    any problem hear is the great man email:OFURELOVESPELL@GMAIL.COM or you call +2348149158514

  • maryam

    As opposed to private healthcare, which is affected by the weight of one’s wallet. (tee hee)
    کرکره برقی

    عکس سگ

  • arezoo

    To be fair I was only addressing the question of healthcare costs
    طراحی نمای ساختمان
    درب ضد سرقت چینی

    نمایندگی سایپا

  • arezoo

    I note that the fat kid in the header pic lived to be 86.

  • andylowings

    I stood by my car and did a rough count outside Tesco, yesterday, as people passed.
    After 60 or so, I stopped counting but got around a 66:33% obesity ratio.

    In town I did the same thing later and got 60:40%. I do it around the country..and never ever get less than 50:50.
    It is truly shocking to witness. Something IS behind it. It may not be simply calories which is the simplistic conclusion.

  • Andrew Orlowski

    “I find it distressing that the pandemic of physical inactivity, high fat, salt and sugar diet has led to obesity and excess weight becoming the ‘new norm’ throughout Europe.”

    Making sense of assertions like this isn’t easy. Salt doesn’t cause obesity, while fat, carbohydrate and sugar intake has fallen in the UK. That leaves er, physical inactivity. As for obesity being the “norm” – can this really true? Are girls now being bullied at school for being too thin? Are my man boobs not large enough?

    “…tackling the obesity problem is the best legacy we can leave the next generation.”

    I would suggest improving the schools might be a better “legacy”, since so many children leave the state school system functionally illiterate and innumerate.

    James, you do sound like a minor civil service frantically trying to creating a job for himself.

  • JonathanBagley

    Any prediction about obesity in 2050 is worthless. Think about predictions made 35 years ago. For example, a new Ice Age .

    Similarly, any claim about life expectancy of people born today is pure speculation.

    Salt consumption is decreasing. Fifty years ago, people poured it on their food and there was less obesity. There is no known mechanism by which salt can cause obesity. Many other countries, including France, have a much higher consumption of fat, and saturated fat, yet have lower levels of obesity and higher life expectancy. France has a spectacularly low rate of heart disease.

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    DO YOU NEED YOUR EX BACK VERY FAST

    DON YOU WANT YOUR LOVER TO LOVE YOU AS NEVER LIKE BEFORE

    ARE YOU SUFFERING FROM A LONG TIME SICKNESS

    ARE YOU FACING FINANCIAL PROBLEMS

    ARE YOU SEEKING FOR A GOOD JOB

    DO YOU WANT TO BECOME A HOUSE OWNER

    ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A FIRST CLASS GRADE

    DO YOU WANT TO COME OUT FIRST IN YOUR EXAMS

    ARE YOU A STAR AND YOU WANT TO BE SO POPULAR TO THE WHOLE WORLD

    DO YOU WANT TO BE RICH

    DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS TO KEEP MOVING

    DO YOU HAVE A COMPANY OF ANY KIND AND YOU WANT IT TO EXPAND

    DO YOU WANT YOUR HUSBAND OR WIFE TO KEEP TO YOUR WORLD

    ARE YOU FACING ANY MARITAL PROBLEMS

    ARE YOU FINDING IT DIFFICULT TO GET PREGNANT FOR YOUR HUSBAND

    ARE YOU EXPERIENCING MISCARRIAGES ANY TIME YOU TAKE IN

    DO YOU WANT TO COMPETE IN ANY LOTTERY GAME

    ARE YOU FACING HARDSHIP

    HAVE YOU BEEN THREATENED BY SOMEONE

    DO YOU WANT TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN ANY THING YOU LAY YOUR HANDS ON

    IS YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER BEHAVING STRANGELY

    ARE YOU FACING WITCH CRAFT MANIPULATIONS

    DO YOU WANT TO CAST A STRONG LOVE SPELL ON YOUR GIRL OR BOY FRIEND

    DO YOU NEED MAGIC POWERS TO DO ANY THING YOU WANT

    ARE YOU FINDING IT DIFFICULT TO CHOOSE A LIFE PARTNER

    DO YOU WANT YOUR PARENTS TO BE PROUD OF YOU

    ARE YOU EXPERIENCING FAILURE AND DISAPPOINTMENT IN ANY THING YOU DO.(ETC)

    i will advice you out there to kindly visit the same website http://bravespellcaster.yolasite.com,if you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to “bringing your ex back. So thanks to Dr Brave for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family once again.{bravespellcaster@gmail.com} , Thanks…………………

    • startledcod

      Hi Jeff. Sorry to be a doom monger but if I were your wife and read this drivel I’d be off again, is it too late to remove it. That said I am ‘EXPERIENCING FAILURE AND DISAPPOINTMENT IN ANY THING YOU DO’, my lottery tickets, especially those for the

      • http://www.military.com/spouse/military-deployment/reintegration/returning-to-home-life-after-deployment.html Jeffrey Dowling

        yes he is good and powerful to help you fix the problem just contact him dear friend

        • startledcod

          Thanks Jeff, I’ll be on to him right away, ker-f**king-ching!

          • http://www.military.com/spouse/military-deployment/reintegration/returning-to-home-life-after-deployment.html Jeffrey Dowling

            Thanks to Dr Brave for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family?

            Hello to every one out here, am here to share the unexpected miracle that happened to me three days ago, My name is Jeffrey Dowling,i live in TEXAS,USA.and I`m happily married to a lovely and caring wife,with two kids A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my wife so terrible that she took the case to court for a divorce she said that she never wanted to stay with me again,and that she did not love me anymore So she packed out of my house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my wife So i explained every thing to her,so she told me that the only way i can get my wife back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for her too So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow her advice. Then she gave me the email address of the spell caster whom she visited.(bravespellcaster@gmail.com}, So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address she gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my wife back the next day what an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my wife who did not call me for the past seven {7}months,gave me a call to inform me that she was coming back So Amazing!! So that was how she came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and she apologized for her mistake,and for the pain she caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, i will advice you out there to kindly visit the same website http://bravespellcaster.yolasite.com,if you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to “bringing your ex back. So thanks to Dr Brave for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family once again.{bravespellcaster@gmail.com} , Thanks.

            Are you passing through any of these problems,

            DO YOU NEED YOUR EX BACK VERY FAST

            DON YOU WANT YOUR LOVER TO LOVE YOU AS NEVER LIKE BEFORE

            ARE YOU SUFFERING FROM A LONG TIME SICKNESS

            ARE YOU FACING FINANCIAL PROBLEMS

            ARE YOU SEEKING FOR A GOOD JOB

            DO YOU WANT TO BECOME A HOUSE OWNER

            ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A FIRST CLASS GRADE

            DO YOU WANT TO COME OUT FIRST IN YOUR EXAMS

            ARE YOU A STAR AND YOU WANT TO BE SO POPULAR TO THE WHOLE WORLD

            DO YOU WANT TO BE RICH

            DO YOU WANT YOUR BUSINESS TO KEEP MOVING

            DO YOU HAVE A COMPANY OF ANY KIND AND YOU WANT IT TO EXPAND

            DO YOU WANT YOUR HUSBAND OR WIFE TO KEEP TO YOUR WORLD

            ARE YOU FACING ANY MARITAL PROBLEMS

            ARE YOU FINDING IT DIFFICULT TO GET PREGNANT FOR YOUR HUSBAND

            ARE YOU EXPERIENCING MISCARRIAGES ANY TIME YOU TAKE IN

            DO YOU WANT TO COMPETE IN ANY LOTTERY GAME

            ARE YOU FACING HARDSHIP

            HAVE YOU BEEN THREATENED BY SOMEONE

            DO YOU WANT TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN ANY THING YOU LAY YOUR HANDS ON

            IS YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER BEHAVING STRANGELY

            ARE YOU FACING WITCH CRAFT MANIPULATIONS

            DO YOU WANT TO CAST A STRONG LOVE SPELL ON YOUR GIRL OR BOY FRIEND

            DO YOU NEED MAGIC POWERS TO DO ANY THING YOU WANT

            ARE YOU FINDING IT DIFFICULT TO CHOOSE A LIFE PARTNER

            DO YOU WANT YOUR PARENTS TO BE PROUD OF YOU

            ARE YOU EXPERIENCING FAILURE AND DISAPPOINTMENT IN ANY THING YOU DO.(ETC)

            SO good people of the world i want you to help me in saying a big thank you to Dr.Brave for his intervention. This is one Dr i will seriously recommend for anyone with issues of such nature or any other problem. Simply contact him on his email via bravespellcaster@gmail.com,or kindly visit he website http://bravespellcaster.yolasite.com .

  • startledcod

    For the first time ever I have had a lengthy and considered comment fail to get past a moderator, surprising in itself as I have been a registered DT user since before commenting even started. Not only was the comment lengthy and thought through it contained no swear words, profanity or blasphemy and it was both spelled correctly and well punctuated. The only reason I can imagine for my post being moderated was my fairly frequent use of the term ‘fattie’ to describe the obese which, indeed, was part of my point, call it what it is and make being obese socially unacceptable.

    Please can a moderator let me know why my post was unacceptable.

    • red2black

      You seem to have answered your own question. I saw kids bullied at school because they were fat – bottles of school milk poured into a lad’s blazer pockets – humiliated by a games master because they couldn’t run as fast as the others – prodded in the stomach and punched in the face by other kids – why? – because they were fat. It seems that being fat has been ‘socially unacceptable’ for a long time.

      • startledcod

        And your point is …? Bullying is, was and always will be unacceptable and not just socially so. Would you have made the same point about a child being ridiculed by his peers for smoking and his consequent inability to exercise? I suspect you would have condemned the bullying but not its motivation.

        The issue you highlight here is bullying and the excuse for same was that the victims were fat. Stamp out the bullying and then address the fact that fat babies become fat children who then become fat/obese adults with a high likelihood of Type II Diabetes and a reasonable chance they could have they could have their feet amputated as a result.

        When I advocate making obesity socially unacceptable I take smoking as an example, smokers aren’t routinely bullied. Fatties are victims any more than smokers or indeed problem drinkers are.

        • red2black

          So you don’t think calling someone ‘fattie’ isn’t a form of bullying? Or does some supposedly well-intentioned ‘motivation’ (like paying a bit less tax) justify it? It is not ‘a fact’ that fat babies become fat children and then become fat adults, although I’d agree there’s more chance of it being the case due to the extraordinary amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates in people’s daily food intake, compared with a few decades ago. The latest ‘idea’ is to medically monitor weight from birth and prescribe statins to overweight kids.

          • startledcod

            Of course calling someone ‘fattie’ is a kind of bullying but I’m only using it for effect on this blog, I would NEVER call someone that to their face. However, calling someone ‘fat, when they quite clearly are is acceptable and is slightly more emotive than severely overweight.

            I come from three generations of Doctors and remember from a very young age my Grandparents recounting how a mother in Fife was horrified when told her child was fat/overweight when she though it ‘bonnie’, also I remember my father repeating ad nauseam that fat children make fat adults, yes there are exceptions, but it is more the case now than it was thirty years ago.

            I hadn’t heard that ‘The latest ‘idea’ is to medically monitor weight from birth and prescribe statins to overweight kids’ and I’m not sure why this is suggested but I do think that bringing up severely obese children is a form of abuse and should be dealt with as such.

            As I said in my unpublished/moderated post being obese should become unacceptable.

  • Aberrant_Apostrophe

    “Today’s children are the first generation to have lower life expectancy than their parents, as childhood obesity worldwide has nearly doubled since 1980. ”

    It’s not surprising that the Government isn’t tackling the obesity problem with gusto, so to speak, because they can see it’s a possible way to stop the state pension time-bomb.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    I note that the fat kid in the header pic lived to be 86.

  • Magnolia

    James, here are my observations,
    Londoners are slim compared to people in the provinces and I believe that is because they have a good public transport system and they can move about and use their feet and legs a lot as part of their daily life.
    I have tried very hard to get the rat-running cars off of the lanes in my village because it is a beautiful link area for amenity walkers and cyclists to get to the countryside and the local highways authority just doesn’t want to know.
    All they are bothered about is to keep the traffic jams down.
    The government needs to make it possible to get the cars off of the roads and let the people use the highways again.
    Not only children are getting fat but so are babies. I have seen huge fat babies having food shoved down them to stop them grizzling when they are simply tired and need a sleep. Parents are carers need to know that it is ok to let your baby scream itself to sleep in public rather than to shove comfort food in to it. A screaming baby in public never bothers me when I can see that it is otherwise ok.
    Children today are prisoners of their careful parents and repressively timetabled days. It might be very hard to change that but I enjoyed enormous freedom as a child and it involved a lot of playing out and walking and just having fun with activities and I believe that it kept me slim.
    As an adult I have had to fight the flab constantly and I have won.
    Being slim is d*m hard work and a lot of people simply don’t care about getting fat or prefer the short term high from drinking and overeating.
    Being fat needs to be ‘unrewarded’ again.
    No amount of healthy eating advice or education will solve the problem.

    • Rhoda Klapp8

      NHS figures show urban populations are more obese/overweight. But if you ain’t fat, it is not your problem, or mine, or society’s or the NHS’s.

      • Magnolia

        I don’t think you are right about central London where everyone looks slimmer than the rest of the country.
        The fat old ladies that I see waddling and hobbling down my high street are my problem because they will have expensive health and social needs due to their obesity that the tax-payer has to pay for.
        They may also be unable to fulfil their proper role within their own families because of their reduced mobility and exercise tolerance due to excessive weight and that in turn could lead to more demands on the state from their unsupported slim relatives.
        They also seem to eat cake at every opportunity.

        • Rhoda Klapp8

          You are using the NHS argument as an excuse to make moral judgments about people. In the NHS responsible folks pay for the treatment of irresponsible folks. That’s how it works. You don’t get a choice, but you do get treatment when you need it yourself. From fat nurses, fat doctors and very fat dieticians, in my local hospital at least.

          Now, if you want to protest paying for the feckless, go ahead. But don’t target fat people specifically. It isn’t your problem.

          • Magnolia

            Rhoda it is my problem because I care about wasted lives and because I know that a considerable percentage of fat women are too fat for their curable uterine cancer to be treated properly. They literally cannot be saved because of their weight. It is also my problem because there is extensive rationing in the NHS. The money spent on obesity related conditions will be unavailable for other things.
            I had every sympathy for smokers when their diseases were caused by starting smoking at a time when it was thought good for you. That is simply not the case now with excessive weight gain which we know to be associated with increased long term morbidity at least.

        • red2black

          They’re all on the Marie-Antoinette Diet.

  • JonBW

    Three inconvenient truths:

    1. Obesity costs the NHS less than ‘good health’: people who live ‘unhealthy lifestyles’ tend to get ill and die earlier in their lives than ‘healthy’ people. However, the cost of caring for the ‘healthy’ in old age means that over a lifetime, they incur more health care costs than the obese (and smokers). That’s why the NHS is struggling to cope with an ageing (and ‘healthier’) society.

    2. There is absolutely no evidence that elite sport has any impact on wider society: the Olympics were never going to change the way people behave generally in the long term and they didn’t. The whole idea that funding elite sport has benefits for wider society is a myth to justify subsidising the elite.

    3. The most convincing explanation of the ‘obesity epidemic’ is that it is the result of cheaper food. People are more likely to eat too much if they can afford to do so. The most effective way to tackle obesity is probably to increase the cost of food.

    And, politically, good luck with that…

    • red2black

      You make some good points, but seem to assume, with your idea of increasing the cost of food, that most fat people are poor.

      • JonBW

        Not at all… or at least not what I meant to suggest!

        • Rhoda Klapp8

          They are, though.

          • red2black

            http://www.poverty.org.uk/63/index.shtml
            The information on this site contradicts what you claim.

            • Rhoda Klapp8

              And the NHS data tends to confirm it, at least in the obesity press release, even though they try to avoid the conclusion. Tell you what, you go to ASDA and count the fat folks. I’ll go to Waitrose.

              • red2black

                Surely part of the reason is that more affluent people seek medical help from private hospitals and clinics, as well as joining things like slimming clubs or attempting weight loss dieting on their own. If anyone really knew all the answers, I’m sure our bookshop shelves wouldn’t be filled with so many books containing so many pages of often spurious and contradictory advice. There’s a very profitable weight loss industry at work out there. The poverty.org figures relate to the whole of society – not just those that use the NHS.

    • Aberrant_Apostrophe

      Point 1: dying earlier doesn’t necessarily imply the NHS costs are less, as the person may struggle on for years, not being able to work (and hence pay taxes) and being totally reliant on the State. Increasing longevity of otherwise healthy people is being addressed by progressively raising the retirement age.

      • JonBW

        “…dying earlier doesn’t necessarily imply the NHS costs are less”.

        I’m afraid it does… because most of the ‘premature’ deaths resulting from ‘unhealthy lifestyles’ are from illnesses that are over relatively quickly.

        ‘Age-related’ diseases (especially dementia) tend to affect people for longer (and require more expensive interventions because they require more ‘care’ and less treatment.

        Raising the retirement age may be necessary, but it won’t address this problem.

        • Aberrant_Apostrophe

          You’re ignoring the rest of my response, in that the person is a nett drain on society. Someone who develops Alzheimer’s in their 70s has usually contributed during their working life to their care in the final years. And I’m not convinced that premature deaths are all that quick. Morbidly obese people can live for 30-40 years, as can diabetics.

          • JonBW

            To be fair I was only addressing the question of healthcare costs.

            To calculate the cost to society more generally you’d have to factor in lots of considerations (years worked and tax paid, benefits claimed, social care et cetera).

            Morbidly obese people may live for 30-40 years and work (and pay taxes) for most of that time; equally, healthy people who live longer will claim more benefits (pensions et cetera) and require more social care (this is the really big cost).

            Two points are interesting: first that the research that has been done (on health costs) produced exactly the opposite to the expected result (i.e. ‘unhealthy’ people incur lower lifetime health costs).

            The second is that the private sector recognises that good health produces greater demand (insurance companies typically offer more generous deals on annuities to people in poor health, smokers et al, because they know they probably won’t live as long).

    • startledcod

      In reply:
      1. I think that is the case with smokers but I suspect, though have no evidence, that that is not the case with fatties who are a huge (arf, arf) burden on the NHS for long before they die.
      2. Spot on, legacy, schemacy; all justification for throwing ridiculous amounts of money at a few sports days to impress the corrupt IOC.
      3. Almost spot-on, it is the fact that calories are so much cheaper. Compare the calories in a Big Mac meal at about £5.00 to how much one had to consume to equal the calorie count in, say, 1955.

      • JonBW

        1. Suggest you look at the research by van Baal et al in 2008 which suggests that “… although effective obesity prevention reduces the
        costs of obesity-related diseases, this reduction is offset by the
        increased costs of diseases unrelated to obesity that occur during the
        extra years of life gained by slimming down.” The same effect was even more pronounced for smokers.
        2. Thanks.
        3. Yes, I agree with that.

        • startledcod

          My point was that even with earlier death as a result of obesity there are costs to the NHS, and other state provided services, accruing for a long time before. I would hazard that obesity is unhealthy for longer than smoking although the latter will catch up rapidly.

          • JonBW

            Yes, that may well be true; it’s also quite possible that for younger people, sports-related injuries cost the NHS more than smoking or obesity.

            However, if you are looking at the cost of illnesses to the NHS by their causation, it only makes sense to do so across the whole of life.

            • startledcod

              I know that sports related injuries do happen but are they a significant cost?

              • JonBW

                The costs of sports-related injuries are not calculated by researchers and the DH in the same way that the costs of smoking or obesity are, because sport is seen as a ‘good thing’.

                If the same methodology was applied, from the data I’ve seen, the cost of sports-related injury would be of a similar magnitude (i.e. in the Billions) to smoking and obesity, though of course the potential benefits would have to be offset against cost.

                However, if you looked at a specific age group (say 18-30) where smoking and obesity related illness is much less significant, and sports injuries most common, you might well find that the costs of sports injuries were greater.

                That’s why it only makes sense to consider health costs on a lifetime basis (in my opinion).

                • startledcod

                  I had absolutely no idea that sports related injuries were such a costly burden although your point about the 18-30 age group is logical. I thought that as playing fields were sold off sports injuries were harder to acquire.

                  My own sports injury from rugby played in pre-gumshield days has cost me many £000s in later life dentristy, unfortunately not through the NHS.

                • JonBW

                  A few years ago, one City General Hospital recorded more than 5000 admissions to its A&E department in a single year.

                  If you extrapolate from that (and include longer-term treatment, patients presenting GPs, et cetera) the figures start to mount up to a very significant cost indeed.

                  I’ve also suffered some (thankfully minor) sports injuries that have cost the NHS a few thousand pounds and I have never really played sport regularly.

          • JonathanBagley

            You really should read the research by van Baal et al (other research also comes to similar conclusions).

  • Lussac

    The rot sets in at a very early age these days, my own grandchildren do barely any exercise at school and they get taken and collected by car but at least their mother does her best with their diet and they are not fussy eaters. Compare that to my schooldays 50 years ago, two mile walk to school and back again, at least three and a half hours PE every week and for those interested in the winter there was rugby every other Saturday. The school dinners weren’t that bad either and there was only one “obese” kid out of over a thousand who really did have a glandular problem (was a bloomin’ good guitarist though even at 12).

  • Jonathan Tedd

    I think Dr Anthony Daniels made an astute observation: unlike other other rich nations, a significant percentage of UK homes do not have a dining table. In other words, snacking and grazing is on the menu – supermarkets even have “snacking” aisles of rich treats.

    We also need to tell the truth about fat (good for you) sugar (bad for you). John Yudkin was right all along.

    • Alexsandr

      you need a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrate and vitamins,minerals etc.
      and limit your intake to a reasonable amount. OK eat cake sometimes but not 3 times a day.
      and if you want to be full fill up with vegetables and fruit. better still drink a big glass of water before you eat so your stomach is full.
      and eat slowly. give your stomach time to tell your brain you are full. If you wolf it down you will still feel hungry so go grazing.
      and eat complex carbohydrate. It keeps you feeling not hungry for longer.

      • Aberrant_Apostrophe

        I read somewhere that eating soup leads to people feeling full more quickly than consuming the soup as water plus the equivalent solid food. I guess the water goes straight through the stomach exit quicker than soup.

  • red2black

    We’ve imported everything American from Neoliberal economic policies to drive-through junk food joints, and wonder why we’re getting fat… and guess what… these other countries have as well.
    Top 10 Most Obese Countries (end of May 2014)
    1. United States
    2. China
    3. India
    4. Russia
    5. Brazil
    6. Mexico
    7. Egypt
    8. Germany
    9. Pakistan
    10. Indonesia

  • The Masked Marvel

    One longs for the good old days when obesity was a sign of wealth. Now our poor people are fat. Relative poverty and all that.

    • Holly

      It is NOT because they are ‘poor’, it is because they buy stuff containing far too much sugar.
      It is sugar that is the problem.
      How long were we all ‘brainwashed’ into reading packaging for the fat content, then it was the salt. When all along it has been the sugar content doing the damage, and the fat/salt content used as the ’cause of the problem’ even by people who knew better.
      Read only the sugar content on labels, and try to cut your intake by half.
      Do the same again next year, and see what happens.

      • The Masked Marvel

        I did not imply causation. Not that I disagree with what you say here.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Just more drip, drip, drip of identity group politics.

    It is the epidemic of fat heads in Parliament that costs the country more.

  • Ay.

    I think that information about obesity with more coverage on TV for instance with detailed tips, may be beneficial. With weight loss, there are advantages that may go beyond the body appearance. I have read that losing weight could have a positive health effect on: lowering blood pressure, lowering the risk of kidney stones, reducing bad cholesterol, and help with knee pain.

    Just in case you have been looking for a solution that does not involve being starved by a weight loss diet or overwhelmed by workouts, you may check this out and the video being linked to: specialfatloss.com

    Losing weight for the long term is what seems to really matters. However, if a workout or a diet is too hard to follow through long term does it really help?

    • Alexsandr

      one thing people dont realise is you have to have do a massive amount of exercise to burn off a small amount of food
      mars bar is 280Kcal, thats 45-50 minutes walking.
      so the important thing is eating less.

    • Holly

      Tip;
      CUT DOWN YOUR SUGAR INTAKE.

      Previous generations were not overweight on the scale of people today, because they did not eat so much sugar. Today it is ‘hidden’ in practically everything.
      Previous generations ate much more fat and salt than we do today, but we have been brainwashed into thinking these are bad. Well, IF eaten the same way we eat sugar we would all be rolling la*rd-arses.
      Who in their right mind would eat fat or salt on a scale they do with sugar?

      Cutting down on ONE ingredient is much easier than any other diet known to man.

      • red2black

        I agree with you that sugar is the enemy, and that it is hidden in practically everything. It seems that even ‘natural’ sugars in fruit-juice drinks contribute to tooth-decay. As well as affecting ‘taste’, I think it’s true that refined sugar has preservative qualities, and is often added to bread, for example. Then we have converted sugar as alcohol, and the claim that the human body regards all ingested carbohydrates as ‘sugar’. All weight loss ‘diets’ are ‘calorie counted’, either as part of the product sold to the customer, or by the customer upon receipt.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    Every year in the Spring the NHS slips out a press release about obesity levels. I’ve been saving them for a few years. When you look at the data, it’s hard to see a serious trend. It’s up, but slowly. There is no basis at all for thinking the numbers are going to be like the predictions given here for the future. It is a practice for the headline bit of the PR to emphasise a different number every year, ducking year-on-year comparisons which are not very sensational.

    This is not to say there is not an obesity problem. But the smell here of a think tank looking for new ways to tell people how to behave is strong. Nanny state nonsense. Obesity no matter how common is an individual problem. In short, you are responsible for your own body and what happens to it. It is not the state’s business. It is not OK to conflate overweight and obesity. It is absurd to use BMI as a measure, especially with juveniles. People of below-average BMI live less long on average than overweight people.

    Make up your own mind after you get all the facts. Do not blindly accept what the obesity industry is telling you.

    (And stop feeling superior to fatties, it is the last resort of the bigot.)

    Rhoda, BMI 20, no fat at all.

    • Alexsandr

      yes rhoda. but what about the NHS cost. We moan about the welfare state benefiting the feckless. but here you are saying we should have free choice and the NHS, i.e the taxpayer, pick up the cost.

      • Rhoda Klapp8

        We pay for the NHS. We don’t get a choice.. The essence of insurance is that those who do not incur costs get to pay for those who do. Lazy people, unlucky people, careless people, feckless people. All of them involve extra cost. Indeed those categories of folks cost us wise frugal types in every aspect of life, not just health. If you think you are a wise frugal type, that is.

        (You are right about the fast food. Urban obesity is rather noticeably more than rural, and IMHO the temptation of convenient tasty food is at the root of over-eating. No amount of health warnings or labelling will make a difference.)

        • Alexsandr

          in real insurance you make a proposal and actuaries assess the risk Being overweight would count as a high risk and a higher premium. NI takes no account of the risk, just income.

          • Rhoda Klapp8

            I do not want to see the NHS being able to make (moral?) judgments about who deserves treatment. It would be the thin end of the slippery slope. Just swallow it Alex, some folks have to pay for the fecklessness of others in every aspect of life. It is the good man’s burden.

      • Darnell Jackson

        And what would your solution be?

        • Alexsandr

          have a proper insurance based system. those with poor risk pay more. like in any insurance.

          • Darnell Jackson

            I would be interested to hear how that would work, what about the people who are unable to pay, what about binge drinkers, horse riders, sunday league players and the promiscuous.
            Could you please expand.

  • dado_trunking

    We hate fat people.
    Gidiot shows how it’s done, now the economy is growing again. Wayhey!

    • Alexsandr

      what are you on?

      • dado_trunking

        You mean ‘what am I off?’
        Osborne Burgers of course – he advertises in June, they sell up in October. Broken Burger Britain.

  • Glyphkeeper

    The problem is that there are very few downsides to becoming obese any more.

    Thanks to computers you can do all your shopping, work and entertainment without ever leaving your comfy chair and even when you do squeeze out the door, with lifts and escalators everywhere being unable to climb a flight of stairs is no longer an impediment to getting about. Sure, there are health problems associated with being a fattie but those tend not to manifest themselves until many, many pies have made their way down the hatch and besides, the NHS sorts them all out for free anyway.

    The only negative consequence to being obese these days is self-image since obese people are not physically attractive. Unfortunately, even this is being chiseled away at as people are being told to “love their curves” and that “Everyone is beautiful” etc, etc.

    Until there are some proper, immediate consequences to eating too much and exercising too little, obesity will remain an externality. Personally, I think extra charges for services like healthcare and transport will provide more incentive to lose weight than taxes on sugary drinks.

    • Alexsandr

      if the NHS was insurance based the premiums would be affected by ones weight. (as is private health insurance now)

      • red2black

        As opposed to private healthcare, which is affected by the weight of one’s wallet. (tee hee)

        • Alexsandr

          au contraire. you nay more NI the more you earn. private insurance is risk based. But i like the joke.

          • red2black

            Private insurance is fine for those who can afford it, but no use at all to those that can’t.

            • Alexsandr

              I dont know but we need a system where those who through choice are likely to become a burden on the public purse pay more. either through a tax on certain foods or through increased contributions for high risk people.
              open to suggestions.

              • red2black

                I’d suggest that longevity will prove to be a far greater burden on the public purse than overweight people, whether they are capable of contributing or not. I live in a working class area of a northern town; some people are fat, some people are thin, and there are all sorts of shapes and sizes in between.

              • cheshire_cat28

                Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. If obese people supposedly die earlier then they SAVE the state money by not having to pay out old age pensions as they do to the healthy ones who live longer. It’s a wash.

    • Aberrant_Apostrophe

      Not forgetting the recent Dutch court ruling that morbid obesity can be classed as a ‘disability’, with all that entails for employers, etc.

    • monty61

      Indeed, What’s missing from today’s society is any concept of shame, about anything. Parents, teachers, media, obsess about not critisixing or stigmatising any sort of behaviour (except perhaps for un-PC comments). Result: unruly, out of control kids who are complete porkers by the time they are 12.

      That and the sugar lobby of course. What’s driving the obesity epidemic is cheap procesed food loaded up with sugar and salt, chemically formulated to get round the body’s natural feelings of satiety.

      It’s time we started shaming both junk food manfacturers and the fatties.

    • Andrea Jean

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    • Morgan Keri

      My name is morgan keri.i want to give thanks to dr.trust for bringing back my ex husband.No one could have ever made me believe that the letter I’m about to write would actually one day be written. I was the world’s biggest skeptic. I never believed in magic spells or anything like this, but I was told by a reliable source (a very close co-worker) that Trust is a very dedicated, gifted, and talented person,It was one of the best things I have ever done. My love life was in shambles; I had been through two divorces and was on the brink of a third. I just couldn’t face another divorce, and I wanted to try harder to make our relationship work, but my husband didn’t seem to care. and he brake up with me again.I was confuse and do not no what to do again,rather them to get in contact with dr.trust. He did a love spell that make my husband come back to me. we are now very much happy with our self. dr.trust make him to realize how much we love and need each other.This man is for REAL and for good.he can also help you to fix your broken relationship. I had my husband back! It was like a miracle! He suddenly wanted to go to marriage counseling, and we’re doing very, very well,in our love life.contact email(ultimatespellcast@gmail.com or ultimatespellcast@yahoo.com tel:+234186885231)

  • Alexsandr

    i think one of the worst causes is take away food. the chippy or the asian takeaway is too easy to people who cant be bothered to cook. And some of the portions are enormous. And, from what I see, washed down with large quantities of pop bought at the same time.
    perhaps if takeaways were to be forced to put the calorie count and %age of recommended daily intake on their menus that may help.
    And the amount of salt they put on fish and chips cant be good for people either.
    or perhaps some smaller sized portions should be available.

    remember, some people do take aways several nights a week. And perhaps at lunchtime too. Perhaps Greggs should put nutrition info on their stuff too.

    • White Lightning

      The answer isn’t further red tape, it’s education.

      Frankly, if you don’t know that going to Alan’s every night for pudding, chips and gravy with 3 cans of Carling is bad for you, there’s no hope.

      On the other hand, if that’s your bag, go for it lads. Personal choices and all.

      • Alexsandr

        thats all very well but the rest of us who look after ourselves end up paying for it through taxation. Otherwise I would agree with you.

        or perhaps you turn fatties away from treatment on the NHS?

        • red2black

          Install weight-sensitive trapdoors in all NHS entrances and starve the victims down to size in a subterranean G4S secure environment. “It’s bread and water for you Fatso, for as long as it takes!”

          • Alexsandr

            reminds me of the kids TV show ‘through the trapdoor’ – nick park monsters and wilie rushton voice over.

            • Rhoda Klapp8

              Stay away from that Trapdooor, cos there’s something down there!

            • red2black

              Wrong type of trapdoor. We need those that executioners use when they’re making a sophisticated job of stringing someone up. Perhaps we could include weight-sensitive nooses that drop a split second before the weight-sensitive trapdoors open. “OK, you sinners… Swing!”

      • Glyphkeeper

        It’s not education – everyone already knows what’s healthy and what’s not. The problem is that they don’t care!

        • Alexsandr

          they dont care because there is no downside.

          • red2black

            Apart from people coming up with daft ideas about how to punish them. (snick snick)

      • Tom M

        No it isn’t, the answer is self interest. Make being obese expensive. More space taken on transport, weight penalties the same as for baggage, restaurant seating and table space, larger uniforms, hospital beds,. Apply an obesity surcharge and no education would be required.

        • red2black

          Would this be the same for fat bastards ‘across the board’, or just for the lower orders?

          • Tom M

            Why would you think it wouldn’t be across the board?

            • red2black

              Because schemes like the one you suggest never are.

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