LONDON – Obesity is on track to become a major health issue for British people, with 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women expected to become obese or overweight by 2050, according to United Kingdom government estimates.
According to the government’s science office, in recent years, “Britain has become a nation where overweight is the norm,” and “the rate of increase in overweight and obesity, in children and adults, is striking.”
If it remains unresolved, the problem will cost around £50 billion ($63.1 billion) per year with health issues caused by obesity such as type-2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.
However, it is not always easy to maintain a balanced and healthy diet in the UK, which is also suffering from a cost-of-living crisis.
Daniel Newman, 39, a Londoner who is suffering from weight-related problems, thinks the government should do more to help people in this condition.
Speaking to Anadolu, he said the cost-of-living crisis is making it impossible for him to eat a healthy diet.
“The cost-of-living is really bad for me because I don’t get a lot to live on. (With) what I get to live on, I have to pay if I want healthy foods, I have to pay more money for them, which is a struggle with what’s going on now.”
Newman said he is trying to eat healthily lately, but in the past, he had unhealthy but cheaper preferences.
“I was eating quite a lot of pizzas in the past and (now) I’ve been eating lots of pasta because it’s cheap,” he said.
Confirming that a cheaper but less healthy diet is not good for himself, Newman said people with little money can easily go to cheap fast food shops in every corner of London.
“But it’s no good for somebody that’s overweight like myself, because it just piles on the weight,” he said.
No future without action
Professor Paul Gately, the vice chairman of Obesity UK, said Brits do not have a “good future” regarding obesity.
Gately told Anadolu that the levels of obesity will continue to rise further in the UK.
“Actually for last 30 years, there’s been lots of talk, but not much action,” he said. “So really what we are expecting to see over the next 20-30 years is levels of obesity continue to rise, health issues continue to rise and health inequalities continue to rise too.”
Gately said it really is “incumbent upon the government to take action on this agenda and not talk about it but do real action.”
“So what does real action mean in my mind is talking to people living with obesity in understanding what their needs are rather than making a judgement as a politician that ‘I know what’s best for you’,” he added.
Gately said the creation of a program based on obese people’s needs is a necessity and “the government could do a lot.”
“Over the last 20 years our government, the UK government, has had about 14 strategies about obesity. Very few of those have been implemented.”
“Yes, I do think that the government should help with that because there’s a lot of people who’s got the same problems with me, overweight and struggle,” Newman agreed Gately.
Cost-of-living a ’major challenge’
Gately said the cost-of-living crisis is a “major challenge” and they are working on a project to help the obese amid this crisis.
“I’m really fortunate to be involved in a project, a research project where we’re looking at food insecurity for people living with obesity,” he said.
Gately said: “People are suffering financially at the moment and so when they walk into a supermarket or a retail environment, they make often unhealthy choices because they’re thinking with their pocket than they are with their mind, and that’s an obvious thing to do.
“So as part of this work, we’re trying to work with people living with obesity to find solutions and there are solutions out there if people be more mindful and if supermarkets and retailers can start to get on board to make sure that the offers they give people that are considering their pocket, as well as their health.”
Price and availability
Echoing Gately, Baroness Joan Walmsley, the vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Obesity, told Anadolu that “a large part of the problem lies with the price and availability of the food people eat.”
Walmsley said: “This is particularly so for poorer people for whom healthy food is both not available where they live and also out of their price range.
“Ultra-processed food with high energy density is both available and cheap but scientists tell us it is making the population fat and sick. The problem therefore lies with the food industry. The government should take a lead in fixing our broken food system by regulation of the content of food and ensuring that benefits are sufficient to allow all families to eat a healthy diet.” (Anadolu)