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Battle of the Bulge

27 Aug

We have been going through a sharp learning curve over the pandemic.   Personally, I have become much better at navigating the internet, for instance.  Also, much as I like people, I have had assiduously to practise physical/social distancing.  Further, with the lockdown, my wife/partner and I have been growing old together, and it is turning out to be a very pleasant exercise.

However, one of the down sides of the pandemic is that people are easily bored and when they are bored, they eat.  When they eat mindlessly, they become overweight if not obese.   This plays into the hands of the Covid-19 virus, for if there is one thing the virus loves it is overweight people.

A victim has been Prime Minister Boris Johnson who had a wake-up call when he was felled by the virus and rescued by the medics at St Thomas’s Hospital who placed him in intensive care.

“I’ve changed my mind on this,” said Johnson when referring to the issue of obesity, in a conversation with some of his most senior ministers and advisers towards the end of July 2020.  “We need to be much more interventionist.  He is now leading the country in the Battle of the Bulge, which is antithetical to the stance he had been taking not so long ago when he objected to “nanny state” interventions.  We can recall the time when at David Cameron’s first conference as Tory leader, Johnson was supporting mothers who pushed pies through school railings while protesting about the promotion of healthy lunches.

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Obesity Crisis: a national problem which begins at birth

12 Aug

I        Preamble

Obesity has become a national crisis.  Increasing numbers of pregnant mothers overeat.  The expectant mother justifies doing so by kidding herself with: “Well, I am eating for two.” There is some medical evidence to suggest that the overeating impacts on the unborn child, who on arrival also tends later to overeat.  The problem often starts at birth. A tragedy.

Obesity causes diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and early death.   That apart, the obese person is impeded from living a normal life. S/he walks slower, has problems breathing, spends more on larger-sized clothes and shoes, takes up considerable seating space in public transport attracting angst from others and does not look and feel good.

Childhood obesity is linked to different health conditions such as asthma and type-2 diabetes.  It also increases cardiovascular risk factors.   Obese children suffer from mental ill-health and behavioural problems.   Worst of all, an obese child becomes and obese adult.

In 2017, a national survey revealed that 36% of the UK population was overweight and 29% obese.  In the case of men, 40% were overweight and 27% obese.  With women, 31% were overweight and 30% obese.

In 1984 fewer than 10% of five to ten-year-olds were overweight, and fewer than 2% obese. In 2017/18 more than 20% of children were overweight or obese when they began school and over 33% overweight or obese by the time they left primary school.  Obesity numbers are highest in the most deprived 10% of the population twice that of the least deprived 10%.

The poorest have become the biggest victims of obesity.  Forty years ago, a poor child was around 25% more likely to be obese than a rich one. Now, by 11 s/he is three times as likely. Marie Antoinette said of the common French person: “Let them eat cake.” Prime Minister Johnson is now saying to the manufacturers about the common man in the United Kingdom: “Let them eat sugar” – a cry that does not liberate but is a curse.

Obese children are stigmatised and bullied. This leads to low self-esteem and frequent absences.

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