Tony’s war on obesity

It was a bit weird to start my annual diet on Monday, and then have the Prime Minister come out today and tell people to lose weight. Yo Blair, glad I got there first.

Personally, I think he has a point, and I think we expect waaaay too much from an NHS that wasnt intended to provide the type and level of care it has evolved into providing. The NHS was designed to help people remain healthy, and provide care when that failed. We lost the Health Promotion message a long time ago, and need to start looking for it all over again. I doubt that this statement will galvanise a nation into eating apples and starting the South Beach Diet, so it comes back again to people taking personal responsibility for some of their personal health and care issues, where they can, and relieving the burden on the NHS.

  • slug

    Is fruit fattening?

    e.g. grapes, pineapples, strawberries, applea.

  • Miss Fitz

    The message is to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day Slug, so no, not fattening

    Was this a trick question?

  • na

    People should start immediately after Prescott and the other lard arses in the cabinet do.

  • slug

    Hmmm miss fitz. The five a day is to reduce the chance of cancer, not to reduce obesity. I suspect that if I cut down on bananas, pineapples, grapes, apples, etc., that it would help reduce weight. So perhaps the “5-a-day” and the “reduce your eating” messages are in conflict.

    I agree that the government should try to shape our eating habits. For instance, they coudl start to regulate advertising of unhealthy products.

  • slug

    Miss FItz

    You are right about the costs on the NHS.

    It is said that most of the NHS costs are things that could be avoided if people took more care – drunk less, smoked less, had safer sex, eat healthier food, etc.

    So I think that a focus on these lifestyle choice issues is important.

    Good blog item.

  • Pete Baker

    “It was a bit weird to start my annual diet on Monday”

    I was wondering why you hadn’t the energy to post anything recently, Miss Fitz ;o)

  • pith

    Good posting Miss Fitz. Five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is largely to do with combatting cancer, heart disease etc. but of course, if everyone was following that regime it is likely that we would be living in a society with less obesity as well. It is about a healthy food culture.

  • harpo

    ‘It was a bit weird to start my annual diet on Monday’

    Miss Fitz:

    I always find that I eat a lot more over the Twelfth fortnight too. People do tend to eat more during periods of celebration.

    But good for you for trying to work off a few of those pounds.

  • Miss Fitz

    Pete
    So happy someone missed me…. Had nothing to do with the diet though, just busy before taking annual leave.

    Slug
    http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/document/html/chapter5.htm

    I thought you were kidding, but seriously, fruit is not seen as fattening. This is a link to the USDA healthy eating guide. The food pyramid was re-structured several years ago after a recognition that the groupings were wrong, and possibly leading to obesity. 5 a day is a strong message for healthy eating, and is promoted by nutritionists and dieticians here also.
    All joking aside, I have followed the South Beach diet on and off for a couple of years, and once the first 2 weeks are over, there is a positive promotion of fruit.

    Eating 5 portions a day is healthy on a variety of levels and is certainly not classed as over eating

  • harpo

    ‘Tony’s war on obesity’

    You see, there’s the word war again.

    Tony should have learned by now that his war on terrorism in Iraq has been a failure, and instead of war on things he should be drawing things into a peace process. Like he did in NI, with much success.

    So why doesn’t he offer power sharing to the obese, with guaranteed places in government for them?

  • Pete Baker

    Cutting down on the Cadbury’s chocolate too then? ;o)

  • pith

    “I always find that I eat a lot more over the Twelfth fortnight too.”

    Yes, I too stuff myself when it’s over.

  • Moochin photoman

    “I always find that I eat a lot more over the Twelfth fortnight too.”

    I had to raid the cupboards coz all the feckin shops were shut!

  • slug

    Miss Fitz

    I must thank you for that US government health advice statement.

    I see that its not enough to eat 5 items a day of fruit/veg , which I have no problem satisfying , it has to be “4 cups/week of dark green veg” “3 cups per week of bright orange veg” etc. Which I am not satisfying, as I eat lots of grapes, pineapples, bananas, apples, oranges, and not much veg (maybe a just asparagus and tomatoes).

    So now I am worried.

    I eat 2 x shreded wheat for breakfast so that does the whole grain.

    I believe that I have to cut out white bread. I have a baguette sandwich for lunch (lamb & mint sauce today) and that sort of thing is fattening coz of the bread.

    Anyhow I DO think you have hit on an important issue and I DO think the government should try to restrict advertising of unhealthy products, to adults as well as kids. And maybe ban chocolate machines in work places so people wouldn’t get tempted…

  • Cato

    [Cato, there’s a ball already on this thread, Keep to it! – edited moderator]

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Slug,

    Fruit *can* lead to weight gain, primarily due to the sugar => starch conversion when metabolized…

    But, if nothing else, its a damned sight healthier than other options.

  • Miss Fitz

    Slug
    Again, being serious, eating white bread has the same effect on your system as taking 5 spoons of white sugar. You are much better to have your sarnie in a pita wrap, or go for whole-wheat bread.

  • Keith M

    The whole idea of community rating needs to be reviewed. Those who overeat, abuse drugs (including nicotine and alcohol) should be made pay additional costs for health insurance or be removed completly fropm NHS waiting lists.

  • joeCanuck

    Ah keith

    That would be a very slippery slope as i’ll demonstrate:
    What about people who put themselves at risk in other ways; e.g. skiing (slippery slope). Should they have to pay extra to have any injuries treated?

  • Keith M

    Joe those that go skiing pay very heavy travel insurance.

    I believe that anyone who engages in high physical risk activities should either be insured or pay a large porttion of the medical fees.

  • slug

    Ms Fitz

    “Again, being serious, eating white bread has the same effect on your system as taking 5 spoons of white sugar. You are much better to have your sarnie in a pita wrap, or go for whole-wheat bread.”

    Good grief! Thanks for the advice! From tomorrow no white bread. Is brown that much better?

    Dread Cthulhu

    “Fruit *can* lead to weight gain, primarily due to the sugar => starch conversion when metabolized…”

    From tomorrow I will have to drop the pineapples and grapes, they are especially sugary.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Slug: “From tomorrow I will have to drop the pineapples and grapes, they are especially sugary. ”

    No, just remember — in all things moderation…

    especially moderation.

    These fruits are not empty calories, like the spoonfuls of sugar.

  • wild turkey

    keith m
    Those who overeat, abuse drugs (including nicotine and alcohol) should be made pay additional costs

    they already do some extent, its called taxation.

    on a serious note, the problem is how to square the circle between a public good, ie a robust and effective univesal health care delivery system, and the cost incurred by individual decisions. read the literature. believe me, its not an easy one

    by the way, do not be distracted by the travel analogies, they are shite. the fundamental issue is the inteface between universal social care (ie the catchnet) and individual responsibility

  • pith

    A few years ago it would have been possible to point to the diets of countries in southern Europe as examples of how children should be fed. Now the obesity problem has become so widespread throughout Europe that even the dull old European Commission has woken up to it (albeit with the usual high-propaganda, little substance “action plan” method). Other countries are now experiencing the same epidemic that we suffer from – cheap rubbish fast food. Obesity has become a problem everywhere on the back of increased wealth, yet it is poorer people who seem to suffer most from it.

  • Keith M

    “they already do some extent, its called taxation.” Taxation and duty doesn’t cover the full cost and on illegal drugs doesn’t cover any. If people convicted of drug offences had their health insurance suspended or removed after a second conviction, it would be a move in the right direction.

    The only health care that the taxpayer should be fundig for people like this is treatment to get them off drugs.

  • aileen

    I am feeling very smug. I lost 5 stones from September to February. It wasn’t partiularly hard and it feels good.

    Although the perceived wisdom that losing weight is a matter of restricting your calories is not the whole storey. Before the 5 stones loss o another diet I lost 2 and a half stones and I stuffed my face. It wasn’t about what I ate so much as when I ate.

    BTW the 5 stone loss did not include the 2 and a hald that I had already lost. The total loss is seven and a half stones!

  • Lokaalei

    “It wasn’t about what I ate so much as when I ate.”

    This is true. I live in Turkana in Kenya and I lost ten stone in the past four months. I also lost my mother and father and two brothers but that is another story.

    When I eat is important. There is nothing to eat now except berries and they make me sick, so I dehydrate and need water. But there is no water, except when we dig a well with our bare hands. The water is sometimes poisonous too. So I have to choose when and what to eat and drink.

    It is difficult, but Allah is great.

  • Occasional Commentator

    I hate it when people marvel at the way that I eat and say “You’re so lucky that you can eat so much and not become fat”. The fact is that I stay slim and healthy because of how I eat, not despite it.

    I eat what I like, when I like. I avoid eating late at night, but that’s probably only because I’d have a sore stomach in the morning if I did. Everything I eat is something I’ve cooked from good ingredients. I pile on the herbs and salt and so on. I don’t eat any cheap rubbish like most of the chicken on sale today. No pre made sandwiches or microwave food.

    I’m convinced that it’s all to do with having a high nutrient-to-calorie ratio. If you’re getting plenty of nutrients (vitamins and minerals) then you won’t feel the need to eat as much. But taking vitamin tablets don’t count, there are plenty of nutrients in our food we don’t understand yet and which haven’t been labelled as a known vitamin or mineral yet – so you should eat real food for your nutrients instead of pills.

    When fat people keep eating more calories, I think it’s because they are starved of nutrients and are just trying to get some more.

  • The Devil

    “When fat people keep eating more calories, I think it’s because they are starved of nutrients and are just trying to get some more.”

    When fat people keep eating more calories it’s because they’re gluttonous pigs who don’t know when to stop.

    No, I’m lying. It’s “glandular”.

  • Occasional Commentator

    The Devil,
    I tend to agree with your sentiments. Some people whine on every effing day about their weight and still refuse to do what they’re told. They ask how to lose weight and then don’t listen to the answer. Ever since I quit smoking 5 years ago, I tend to have little sympathy for people who just don’t try.

  • After getting a chewing (!) from my parents, other half, friends etc I am actually starting to eat healthily again.
    I thought it was quite funny to tell people I hadn’t eaten a fresh piece of fruit or vegetables in weeks and had not made myself a meal for a similar amount of time. Lazy.
    Not so funny was the string of infections and the constant feelings of inertia and black moods.
    I bought and made fresh stuff this week (I had visitors who probably didn’t want spaghetti hoops on toast) and feel better already.
    Additionally, the whole eating/weight thing…I have a very fast metabolism which means (until I hit a certain age when it will slow down, apparently) I can eat whatever and my weight remains the same. However I also sweat buckets.
    I don’t exercise much at the moment due to work patterns but I was quite manic about it in the past.
    You lose far more weight when you exercise AND cut out the crap, and kids don’t seem to go out and rake around the fields all day anymore.

  • George

    Keithm,
    “Those who overeat, abuse drugs (including nicotine and alcohol) should be made pay additional costs”

    Why dont we go the whole hog and charge those who have genetic defects?

    And what about those costly old people? Why not charge them too for hanging around too long? Age tax, the way to go.

    Also, does that mean we’ll be taking the exorbitant tax off beer and fags so that the “abusers” can afford to pay for their hiked insurance?

    I think you’ll find most smokers and drinkers would be in agreement with you if it meant 20 cents for a pint and 20 Major.

    Get healthy or die tryin….

  • Oh, and white bread is evil, I cut out all wheat, inc pasta, biscuits, noodles, a couple of years ago and had bloody withdrawl symptoms.
    Skin improved vastly, had more energy and wasn’t as bloated or hungry all the time (another fast metabolism thing).
    Broke my resolve after three months when I walked into Mario’s Pizza on Cregagh Road ;P but still I would tell people to try and keep the bread down. Its amazing how much wheat you actually eat in a day.

  • The Devil

    “Why dont we go the whole hog and charge those who have genetic defects?”

    Yes, serve them right for earning those defects in a previous incarnation, the assholes.

  • DK

    OC has an excellent point – one of the best ways to lose weight is to shun processed foods and make everything yourself from fresh. Italian food is probably the easiest.

    My wife did weight watchers which is a points counting exercise – you can eat whatever foods you want as long as you don’t exceed your points (and you can save some for a special occasion or drunken binge at the weekend). This part is pretty obvious, but the main benefit is that you start to understand food and your behaviours change as you recognise the different types of food and what is good or strictly a treat.

    As a man, I did the binge version, which is to stick to the points during the week and then eat/drink whatever I wanted at the weekend. This worked. I have also done the Atkins & it works best as a binge diet for me as well, but it is too restrictive and you miss the veg/fruit after a while.

    Meanwhile, all praise to Jamie Oliver and his schools campaign – has this had any effect in the Republic?

  • George

    DK,
    “Meanwhile, all praise to Jamie Oliver and his schools campaign – has this had any effect in the Republic?”

    We don’t really have school dinners in Ireland (Republic of) so it had no effect. It’s packed lunch down here.

  • The Devil

    “Meanwhile, all praise to Jamie Oliver and his schools campaign”

    It wasn’t Jamie Oliver’s campaign. He was merely asked to front it for TV and so made it his “own”. So all praise to J. Oliver for making big bucks from another’s idea.

    Do you know whose idea it was? No, of course not, few do. Hey, that’s showbiz.

  • slug

    “We don’t really have school dinners in Ireland (Republic of) so it had no effect. It’s packed lunch down here. ”

    Seriourly, schools in the Irish Republic do not offer school dinners? You have to bring your own sandwiches?

  • Occasional Commentator

    If you’ve already had your quota of calories for the week and you’re still hungry, then go ahead and eat – starving yourself is just treating the symptom not the root cause. The root cause is that the food you ate had few vitamins and minerals, and therefore you need to eat more to get those vitamins and minerals.

    Hunger was invented for a reason – it’s just we’re often too stupid to realise what it is we’re hungry for: nutrients not calories.

    The diet industry has no interest in people successfully losing weight – maybe that’s why you won’t have a multi million dollar campaign based on my ideas 🙂

  • George

    “Seriourly, schools in the Irish Republic do not offer school dinners? You have to bring your own sandwiches?”

    Yes slug,
    and we buy our own books too.

  • Nevin


    http://www.number10.gov.uk/output/Page9921.asp

    So Tony has decided to slim the cabinet and has declared war on Prescott?

  • DK

    The Devil: “It wasn’t Jamie Oliver’s campaign. He was merely asked to front it for TV and so made it his “own”. So all praise to J. Oliver for making big bucks from another’s idea.”

    I’ve wondered if campaigners for healthy school meals were delighted when Jamie Oliver got the issue out in the open and got the changes forced; or whether they were a bit pissed off that he stole their thunder.

    In any case, JO will be widely praised for his efforts (as he is for his “fifteen” project with disadvantaged kids). Compared to any other celebrity chef he stands out a mile:
    http://www.beaconfellowship.org.uk/press_releases.asp?rel=1059&showall=true

  • Keith M

    George; “Why dont we go the whole hog and charge those who have genetic defects?”

    When people make a conscious decision to have genetic defects, I’ll certainly consider it!

    “And what about those costly old people? Why not charge them too for hanging around too long? Age tax, the way to go.”

    If an alternative to growing old is available, I’m certainly not aware of it.

    There is a huge difference between people’s lifestyle choices and things that occur naturally.

  • George

    Keithm,

    using your logic, if a person with a genetic defect deliberately brings a child on to this earth why should I have to pay?

    They knew this child would become a “burden” on society but made the lifestyle choice that they wanted to have flawed children rather than doing the honourable thing.

    DNA tests for everyone and set up a department to issue childbearing permits.

    There is an alternative to growing old – euthanasia. Why should I pay for some person making the decision that they wanted to wear nappies for the last 20 years of their life?

    If they want to grow old, they can pay for it. Otherwise, once the credits run out it’s off to to the knackers yard like Boxer.

    What about removing the exorbitant taxes on drink and cigarettes?

    If I smoke 20 a day then I could pay an extra €1,850 a year in health insurance.

  • The Devil

    “In any case, JO will be widely praised for his efforts (as he is for his “fifteen” project with disadvantaged kids). Compared to any other celebrity chef he stands out a mile:”

    Are you praising him too? In that case if you have a great idea for shall we say reducing emissions in cars, and take it along to the BBC, you won’t mind if they get Jeremy Clarkson to front it and claim it as his own. That’s OK then, as long as we’re clear on that.

  • pith

    On balance I would say fair play to Jamie Oliver. Whether it was his idea or not is not relevant. The point is that he took the idea and made it work. The Jeremy Clarkson analogy is silly. Jamie Oliver believes in healthy food and came to the school dinners campaign with that background. That gave it credibility.

  • The Devil

    “Jamie Oliver believes in healthy food and came to the school dinners campaign with that background.”

    Don’t make me laugh. Jamie Oliver believes in making as much money as possible, which is why he’s lent his name for millions to Sainsbury’s, who sell some of the unhealthiest “food” on the planet. Recently I queried them as to why they needed starch and salt in a coffee creamer if not simply as bulking agents so the ingredients would cost less.

  • pith

    “Don’t make me laugh.” How quaint.

    Appreciation of good coffee would remove the craving for “coffee creamer”.

    What was their answer?

  • The Devil

    “”Don’t make me laugh.” How quaint.”

    ???

    “Appreciation of good coffee would remove the craving for “coffee creamer”.”

    Only if you like it black, Mr. Sainsbury. They had replaced a perfectly acceptable creamer with a new-formula substitute which tasted, well, of starch and salt basically, but were selling it for the price of the old and better one. It’s a common Sainsbury dodge.

    “What was their answer?”

    None. What would yours be if you were found out ripping off your customers? Oh and try thawing out their frozen produce, draining the water and seeing if the weight matches that given on the packaging.

  • eranu

    the mechanics of taking in less food, eating the right types of food and burning off fat by exercising are well known these days. nobody could really claim ignorance.

    that leaves issues like lazyness, greed, gluttony and self control for obese people to deal with. i think people need to address why they sit at home and eat. for example, some do it to make them feel better when their life is generally empty or unhappy.

    the first step would be to get some self control and stop giving into the desire for food all the time. food is fuel, its not a passtime !

  • slug

    Todays lunch: Had oily fish + salad + vinegar, followed by fruit salad with lots of berries and a spoonful of natural youghurt. No bread.

    Yes, eranu, it is self-control. What can I say. I find it easier to avoid eating when I am not under intense work pressure. When I have a report to write, I go to the Diet Coke machine, and then can be tempted, when working late, to get a bag of crisps, then I do that one day, I am far more likely to do it again the next.

  • Occasional Commentator

    eranu: get some self control and stop giving into the desire for food all the time. food is fuel, its not a passtime

    I think the “food is fuel” idea actually does more harm than good. Some of the fattest people I know believe that food is only fuel. They just buy a lump of calories in the most convenient form possible and voila, they end up fat.

    The tastiest food in the long run is the most nutritious food. So if more people put the effort into making food they really enjoyed eating, then they would be healthier for it.

  • eranu

    by food is fuel i mean that you should only be eating enough food to keep your body running properly, and i mean a proper balanced diet. once your full, stop eating !
    eating and eating and eating while plonked infront of the tv is using food as a type of passtime i think.

    slug, i dont think theres anything wrong with a can of coke and packet of crisps. everything in moderation as the old saying goes!

    OC, sounds like the people you know are looking for an excuse to give in to their desire for sweets or junk food or whatever it is that they chose to eat instead of a balanced dinner.

  • pith

    Thawing out food and then weighing it is a fascinating hobby no doubt but I just can’t get it.

    I refuse to discuss coffee with anyone who uses “creamer”.

  • The Devil

    pith

    Or you don’t want to admit you’re just plain wrong, that Jamie Oliver is an overrated loudmouth with a fake accent, and that John Sainsbury is a billionaire owing to the gullibility of people like you?

  • The Devil

    Remember how your mum taught you to chew your food? She didn’t? I’d trade her in for another momma in that case.

    Take a look next time you’re eating out and observe the number of people who actually chew their food. I’ve seen ppl eating like seagulls, simply swallowing after one or two chews.

    The longer you spend chewing, the faster your stomach will send a message to the brain that it’s full. And you’ll stop eating. And you’ll lose weight.

    BTW this doesn’t work with ice cream, chocolate, cheesecake or anything else that doesn’t necessarily require a set of teeth, but you knew that.

  • miss fitz

    I know that diets come and go, but one that interests me at the moment is the Sonoma Valley diet. It has a mediterranean basis, and is apparently quite delicious.

    Slug, I think you should look at it. I know what you mean about pressure food though, if I’ve been to Derry and coming home around 7 or 8, you really feel like a snack in the car to keep going. I’ve moved to oatcakes and a banana now for that purpose, and it works pretty well.

  • pith

    As I have not been to Sainsbury’s for about 3 years and as you have admitted buying salt ‘n’ starch flavour milk substitute there, Mr Devil, surely it is you making Mr Sainsbury very rich and not me.

    Now, let’s get back to the real issue. Coffee creamer contributes to obesity.

  • The Devil

    Pith, you’re obviously a man, since you can’t admit you’re wrong. I no longer shop at Sainsbury’s but buy my creamer in Asda.

    The real issue was not coffee creamer but obesity and if you check my last post you may yet learn how to avoid it.

    But for slow learners: 1. Don’t eat processed crap 2. Chew

  • pith

    Being a member of a household which largely follows the Italian diet and being keen on exercise I need no lessons on obesity avoidance. We never eat processed food. Our children turn their noses up at it.

    Was making an mild effort to see your point on Sainsbury’s but can’t see that Asda is any better.

    Bit of advice – if you are having coffee after a meal please make sure a) that you don’t use so-called instant coffee; and b) that you don’t put creamer in it. Coffee’s main purpose in the diet is digestive. To corrupt it with milk substitute undermines its healthy properties and will contribute to bad digestion. You shouldn’t chew it either.

  • The Devil

    Good, now that Pith the Elder has had the last word, where were we, Miss Fitz?

    What about fibre? Let’s you feel full without the poundage.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Those who say that smokers should have to pay extra to pay for the cost of their own ill health should be reminded that tobacco duty already raises 4 times as much money as the cost of that ill health.

    tobacco tax revenue currently stands at £7 billion a year compared with £1.7 billion it costs to tackle ‘smoking-related’ diseases.

    Smokers should be getting premium treatment in the NHS while those non-smokers like me should be shunned because they’re not paying their way.

  • The Devil

    I can think of better uses for £1.7 billion than treating self-destructive idiots who were told ad nauseam that they were self-destructing.

  • pith

    Couldn’t agree more.

  • George

    The Devil,
    well why don’t the non-smoking lobby stop telling smokers ad naseum that they are self-destructing and lay off taxing the product to the hilt.

    Let a smoker by 20 fags for 50 cents and pay a 2,000 euro a year health insurance.

    I think I’ll start telling old people ad naseum that they should self destruct if they can’t pass my pensioner fitness test.

    If we are talking about idiots, what’s so clever about staying alive so long you can’t control your own bodily functions anymore?

  • Occasional Commentator

    The Devil,
    I can think of better uses for the 5.3 billion (7 minus 1.7) than subsidising lazy, fat, self-destructive non-smokers who were told ad nauseam that they were self-destructing.

    Smokers are subsidizing the healthcare of non-smokers, not the other way around.

  • It is very tough with the amount of junk food that is around and the advertising is all over the place as well. Schools have the vending machines full of chocolate bars and pop easily accessible and most forms popular forms of entertainment involve watching a screen whether it being a television or a monitor.

    Parents have to do their part in finding ways to help their kids, some of which is teaching by example in todays fast paced world and that is not always easy.

    In trying to keep weight down it is a combination of eating right and exercising. Both on their own may show some improvement but some people find no change at all if they exercise but eat the same stuff or eat better but still lounge around.

    Unfortunately there are those people who can seem to eat whatever they want and still stay slim. :S