Tuesday, 16 January 2018

New Year, New You

by Emily Stone

Starting off the new year with a resolution is a time-honoured tradition. More often than not, these resolutions fizzle out by the time February arrives. Fortunately Lent is just around the corner with added incentive to pick it up again. However, these changes towards the better rarely last the entire year.

Obesity is the modern day epidemic, sweeping worldwide. The World Health Organisation has presented statistics demonstrating the astronomical scale of the problem. Worldwide, over 1.9 billion adults were overweight in 2016. Even worse, 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese. We live in a world where the majority of the world’s population live in countries where problems resulting from being overweight and obese kills more people than problems presented by being underweight.

There are many root causes of this problem. Readily available fast food and ready-made food, may be easy and quick to cook or cheap to buy, but they contain high levels of fat and sugar in order to satisfy taste buds. Additionally, the obesity problem is only helped by more physical inactivity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization. This new way of life is growing in the future, as work becomes less and less hands-on as technological advances makes it so. On top of this, no more is there a compulsory domestic science or cookery course in schools. Ignorance of how to eat a healthy and balanced diet is prevalent everywhere and this only exacerbates the problems.

That is not to say the Government is not trying. Last year a sugar tax was announced that will be implemented this Spring. Tax on drinks that contain more than 5 grams of sugar per 100ml will be levied by 18p per litre, while those with over 8 grams of sugar per 100ml will have an extra tax of 24p per litre. The Government claim the money raised from this extra tax will go towards the Department of Education for school sports. In addition to this, there is, in the works, an aim to ban all sugary drinks from hospitals, leading the way by example so to speak.

The implications of obesity are vast. It is not just about one’s image. Obesity increases chances of developing diabetes and this can lead to kidney failure, retinal disease and proriferal vascular disease. Proriferal vascular disease causes poor circulation in your arms and legs, potentially resulting in amputations of them as well as ulcers. As well as this, obesity increases risk of heart disease, strokes, a high blood pressure and problems in pregnancy, including stillbirths. 

So what can be done? There is generally lots of help available at the start of January from the media, exploiting New Year’s resolutions to the fullest. Health clubs and gyms are advertised, health products are being pushed and thereby generally encouraging an atmosphere of self-imposed diets. These are often welcome after the gluttony of Christmas and New Year feasts. In terms of the worldwide problem, raising awareness of this issue is important, as whilst most are aware of a problem, the true depths of this dilemma are yet to be appreciated by most. The future looks bleak unless the motivations of January can be extended throughout the year.

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