Public Health England’s recently released publication “Making the case for tackling obesity - why invest?” raises some interesting questions. Why are ⅔ of adults and up to ⅓ of under 15 year olds in this country considered obese? Why are we getting heavier? How can we help?
We’ve all seen it happen. I remember never seeing an overweight child when I was at school. I also grew up on a farm, in a community of farmers and country folk, where being outside and hard work were a daily occurrence. I walked over a mile to school and back each day, ( uphill both ways in the snow, without shoes ;) and sometimes again if I had any extracurricular activities. I was very tall for my age and was teased a lot for being “big” even though I was within a normal BMI. When I moved to a small city to attend University, everything changed. We drove everywhere. Fast food was accessible and inexpensive. Entertainment was going to the cinema or playing video games rather than hiking or riding horses. It was a completely different world. A world in which there were a lot more overweight children and adults. I found myself gaining weight too.
So what has changed? In my story I started moving less and eating calorie-laden processed food. A dangerous combination. Of course I'm simplifying a very complicated scenario, but the gist is the same. Eye-opening studies from Cambridge University that were recently released, link inactivity to twice as many deaths in the UK than obesity. Couple this with the likelihood of secondary problems such as discrimination and stigmatisation of obese people, increased risk of hospitalisation and a reduction in life expectancy and the necessity for rapid intervention gets more urgent each day.
So what can we do? According to Public Health England, getting one more person to walk to school or work each day could generate between £539-768 in terms of NHS savings, productivity improvements and reduction in congestion/air pollution. It’s going to be a long and complicated process. But we believe that by getting one person at a time to see and feel the importance of exercise in their lives that we will get there. Integrating technology, like our app, with social sharing can have an impact on people’s health. An article from BBC Health illustrates the effect that partners have on one another in terms of fitness and behaviour change. “Seeing an unhealthy partner make a change provided the biggest impetus for an individual to do the same, but living with someone already healthier than themselves also appeared to act as an encouragement.” We believe the effects extend to family and friends as well. There are so many ways we can encourage and motivate one another to get moving and start feeling wonderful!
So lets get out there, one step at a time and make a change! As always, don’t forget your BetterPoints!