The emergence of obesity represents one of the most widespread threats to public health and wellbeing in the UK, with 67% of men and 57% of women either overweight or obese.
The NHS is estimated to spend over £5bn a year on diseases linked to obesity such as strokes and diabetes. Within a few decades, that is predicted to climb to £15bn. Ok, so where do we go from here? Surgical solutions? This is an extremely contentious issue, and one that I feel very strongly about. The issue of diet in this country needs addressing – now!
The intrinsic problem with diets is one of sustainability. Most diets demonstrate some short-term weight loss, but these loses don’t seem to be maintained over a long period of time. Therein lies the problem – overweight people turn to diets to lose weight, they achieve short-term weight loss, but then gain the weight back, if not gaining even more than they started with.
Diets work because they are highly restrictive eating programs. Trust me… most diets I have seen (and I have seen a lot) are not a lot of fun. Food is to be enjoyed and is a very important part of our culture and how we interact with each other. That’s why it’s more important to teach people how to eat rather than resorting to just limiting your food. EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION.
With such a widespread obesity problem it is surely wise to investigate why people overeat. The underlying, psychological factors are a crucial factor. I truly believe that being over weight has a great deal to do with behavioural issues and as health professionals we should be providing behavioural support and psychological counselling as part of the weight control programs.
These restrictive diets just can’t work as a long-term solution – they restrict you from eating foods that you actually enjoy and this may even lead to a diet-bingeing cycle. In addition, when you restrict food, your body has a mechanism where it doesn’t want to be starved; in response the body actually slows its metabolism, which of course makes it more difficult to lose weight. Diets can also be very harmful as they may lack essential nutrients and force you into bad eating behaviours leading to yo-yo dieting. And I haven’t even touched on the potential psychological problems and eating disorders that can be a by-product of intense dieting. Let’s face it, as I said earlier there’s no pleasure in a restrictive diet.
Finally people should be wary of the diet industry that peddles magic weight loss potions; THEY DON’T WORK…. Remember, these products, pills and potions are marketed for one purpose – money. Do you think these companies are primarily concerned with the state of the nations health? I don’t.
The bottom line is, fad diets just don’t work. The most important thing is to develop proper eating habits with a healthy variety of different foods and regular physical activity – that is the key for a healthier lifestyle and weight management.