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news: uk city’s rate of obesity and binge eating increasing steadily

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Title/Topic: UK City’s Rate of Obesity and Binge Eating Increasing Steadily
Posted On: 11/15/2007
Manchester, England, Nov 15 2007 () –

By Lynda Moyo

We’ve all heard it: “She’s not fat, she’s just big boned.” It’s fair to say that people do come in different shapes, sizes, but (and that’s a big-boned but) what can’t be ignored is the fact that in Manchester particularly, size is a problem.

According to Manchester Primary Care Trust, if current national trends in obesity continue unchanged, the number of adults in Manchester who are obese is set to rise by 39.6% by 2008 and even more disturbingly, the number of obese children is predicted to rise by 19.7% by 2010. But is it really a crisis or just a case of eat less, exercise more, as many slim people will testify?

Dr Cath White, from Octopus Health said: “It’s certainly not rocket science. Lifestyles have become very sedentary and for many people cooking is completely foreign to them. We feel we need instant food to go with our hectic lifestyles but actually then just sit in front of the TV with the instant dinner. It’s well documented that we’re all getting fatter – and that does lead to poorer quality of life, more heart disease and an increase in certain cancers.”

Excessive living does indeed take its toll and we see it in the media every day through the likes of Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty. One minute we’ve got teenagers starving themselves to look like Kate Moss and Co and then at the other end of the scale, so to speak, is the fleshy Beth Ditto getting it all out for the audience. Whilst every fat woman and her fat mother are hailing Miss Ditto as a breath of fresh air in today’s size zero obsessed society let’s have a reality check: Beth Ditto is clinically obese and no better than painfully thin models with her clogged arteries and rippling leopard print. What ever happened to just being a healthy size XX*? Extremes in weight are unhealthy. Maybe obese people, unless there is a real clinical problem, need to stop kidding themselves that it’s their genes that are causing them to spill out of their jeans.

As Jane Hesketh, Dietitian at Octopus health said: “The obesity gene has been identified and can cause the disposition of people with that gene to gain a stone more than a normal sized person. But it doesn’t explain the majority. There’s a lot of denial there.”

It’s as though being fat is a ‘lifestyle choice’ whilst other eating disorders are taken seriously. Anorexia and bulimia come under the category of eating disorder as does food addiction. However according to The British Dietic Association, ‘Whether compulsive or bizarre eating practices are due to specific effects of foods on brain chemistry or due more to psychological dependencies, is difficult to assess.’

Some researchers suggest that food cravings should be considered within the normal variations of appetite control merging with the psychological processes of control and restraint. And all this within the social and cultural markers of appropriate intakes of foods. Social and cultural markers? That’ll be those famous glowing golden arches then.

A recent report from consumer watchdog, Which? has called for commercials for food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar to be banned before 9pm in a bid to protect children from unhealthy food marketing. If Which? have their way we can wave goodbye to the clown, the king and the colonel as they get banished to the naughty step to join swearwords, sex and violence.

In response, the Advertising Association believes you can’t just ban the junk food adverts and expect people to become healthier. Many factors are involved.

Baroness Peta Buscombe, Chief Executive of the Advertising Association said: “Obesity is a hugely important and multi-faceted social issue that must be taken seriously. As Which? admit themselves, there is no ‘silver bullet’ in fighting obesity. The increase in obesity can be attributed to a complex range of inter-relating factors.”

Last year, Manchester topped the Men’s Fitness poll for Britain’s fattest city. The survey took into account factors such as consumption of fat and calories, drinking habits, incidence of heart disease, and the number of fast-food outlets ratio-ed against gym membership, availability of open spaces and the consumption of fruit and vegetables. It appears our opportunities for over indulging outweigh those for a healthy lifestyle.

In the merry-go-round of obesity, there’s a lot of information, advice and suggestions out there, yet it all seems to be contradictory and never really deals with the root of the problem which is that we are getting fatter. With no action, by 2028, 19.7% more Manchester people will have a limiting long-term illness, that’s 17,833 more than now.

As Dr Cath said: “It needs to start in schools and families to have any long term effect: changing habits rather than instant gratification.”

There are of course the exceptions to the overeaters who through no fault of their own pile on the pounds due to prescribed medication. Anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, anti-diabetics, anti-hypertensives, contraceptives and anti-histamines have all been heavily linked to weight gain. And once it’s on, shifting the weight is easier said than done.


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