The Obesity Epidemic - Causes and solutions.

WestCoast

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I think it's becoming easier to eat healthier if you choose to, there are a lot of resources out there and food producers are catering ever more to health aware consumers. It's incredibly hard to make changes and I resisted it for years but I found the willpower to change and the results I got were even better than I ever thought.

I've been following the rough principles of a mix keto (atkins) and paleo for the past year, and combined with increased exercise, have lost two stone. The main thing that has really helped me is cutting out refined carbs like white rice and pasta wherever possible. I quite like the idea of paleo, if it looks like it was made in a factory don't eat it is the guiding principle. I don't agree with cutting out entirely what either of the diets say, but I take the key points and apply them where possible. If you break it once or twice or week, that's fine because it needs to be sustainable...

I don't calorie count each day but I roughly track the macronutrients and I have never in my life felt better!
 
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Bald Rick

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Waitrose Wookie Hole Cheddar... Yummmm
Having played cricket at Wookey Hole, I wouldn’t trust their cheddar anymore than their umpire! (Although he does get you into to the local ‘club’ as a guest, where the beer is half the price of the pub a few doors down.)
 

Bletchleyite

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Last year I swapped from semi skimmed to skimmed milk - it took me about 2 weeks of mixing the two in increasing proportions of skimmed.
Skimmed milk is just utterly pointless - it's a thin watery liquid not dissimilar to a cup of water with a teaspoon of flour stirred in. You might as well give up milk and put tap water on your cereal.

30kcal is really easy to get back by doing a tiny reduction in portion size on your evening meal.
 

Bald Rick

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Skimmed milk is just utterly pointless - it's a thin watery liquid not dissimilar to a cup of water with a teaspoon of flour stirred in. You might as well give up milk and put tap water on your cereal
That was precisely my view. And then I changed my mindset.
 

GRALISTAIR

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Again, its about food education. Higher fat food also leads to bad health. higher colesterol etc. Fat is also higher in calories :)
I am of the brigade that believes fat has been demonized far too much. Portion control, exercise are good and to me SUGAR is the number 1 problem.

 

Bletchleyite

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That was precisely my view. And then I changed my mindset.
You're not selling me on it I'm afraid. It's just vile.

I don't mind Coke Zero (it's much nicer than Diet Coke) but it's a different drink to proper Coke (in the same way as Pepsi is, say) - they're both cola drinks, just different ones. But skimmed milk is just pointless. You might as well have your tea black.
 

Bletchleyite

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Fat is not bad per-se. It's about the overall calorie count. And sugar can, as @GRALISTAIR says, be bad in its own right, e.g. by causing insulin spikes which create artificial hunger.

As an example, if I have a bowl of cornflakes with semi skimmed I'm hungry by 11, whereas if I have one with whole milk I can easily go until 1. I actually get more hungry with semi than if I didn't eat them at all. That's because of the carb crash that doesn't happen with the whole milk because there's fat, not just carbs.
 

GRALISTAIR

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But skimmed milk is just pointless. You might as well have your tea black.
Yes full fat milk for me too and definitely NOT margarine. I use butter. Just been for my regular annual check up at my doctors and my cholesterol etc is all low.
I am lucky and do not have a sweet tooth so my sugar consumption is low. I eat about 8 eggs per week and use plain olive oil as my salad dressing.
 

py_megapixel

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I simply can't agree with @Bletchleyite that skimmed milk is pointless. To me it tastes pretty similar to whole milk, just less creamy. It still has the milky taste for tea/cereal.

I also confess to preferring margarine over butter, not because of the taste but because of the ease of spreading it!

However the key, whatever you choose to eat, is moderation.

I will also add that there's a significant issue with too much needless sugar in foods in our supermarkets. I discovered the other day that Sainsbury's mayonnaise has glucose syrup (glucose being a sugar) in it! Tasted too sweet to me (I wonder why? :s); won't be buying it again.
 

ComUtoR

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I am of the brigade that believes fat has been demonized far too much. Portion control, exercise are good and to me SUGAR is the number 1 problem.

Everything gets demonised. Fat is just one of many things that needs to be controlled. Sugar is just the current flavor of the month to take shots at. We all need to be aware of what we are putting in our mouthes.

Its very easy to say that Calories in Vs Calories out is what gains the weight but 1k calories in fat is more harmful than 1k calories of protein. Just as much as kids guzzling litres and litres of Monster or bolt is just as bad as drinking glasses and glasses of Orange Juice. (I found out to my detriment)

Sugar is scary because of how we have abused it as a society. As an American I am sure you are aware of ther dangers of HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup).

Your body will try to use available carbohydrates before anything else. That means it generally burns the sugars before the fats. Consumption of sugar in your diet means that your body is constantly using the sugar and not atually burning off the excess fat. Ergo you will gain weight. With fat, your body will just start storing it, again, gaining weight. For weight loss you need to burn the calories you have as sugar and then start to burn off the fat. Keto diets work because they force your body to burn fat as energy instead of carbs (typically sugars). Most, if not all, diets work because they are eliminating something. The current trend and generally acceptable way to reduce your weight and stay healthy is "everything in moderation" " Eat a little less, move a little more." This is based on calories in/out but also stops your body from craving or just doing something it isn't designed to do.

Please remember there is a difference between being fat and being healthy.
 
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Starmill

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Whilst I accept the argument that poverty limits choices, particularly for children, I don’t agree that one of the choices it limits is the ability to eat healthily, or give their children healthy food.

I find it difficult to believe that anybody in this country finds it difficult to access healthy food over unhealthy alternatives.
Most people who can afford things do not understand why other people can't afford the same things if only they really tried.

Twas ever thus. Indeed, if they could, nobody would be allowed to live such miserable lives. But who have power demand that those who don't continue live that way for vote winning reasons. It is the same in health as with everything else.

The system fundamentally generates enormous profits from people eating unhealthily, and economically punishes people trying to eat healthier food and take exercise. Finger jabbing from train enthusiasts about how people need to be making better life choices will change nothing.
 
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GRALISTAIR

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Trust me I am well aware of the dangers of HFCS - got to keep those Midwest farmers happy though!!! Sugar is in many things including HP/Heinz sauce for example etc etc. They even have sugar in the bread over here
 

alxndr

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The other factor that I don't think has been discussed here is time. There are obviously exceptions, but in general it does take longer to produce a healthy meal than an unhealthy one. Tying that back into incomes, if someone's working two or three jobs to make ends meet are they more likely to get home and start cooking a nutritious meal from scratch or bung a frozen pizza in the oven?

That then has a knock on effect. The children don't learn to cook because they never see their parents cooking and they don't have time to teach them. The children then continue eating the quick and easy foods that they've been brought up eating, and that tends to be calorie dense microwave or oven ready meals.

Again, it isn't the only factor, but it can be one.
 

GRALISTAIR

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Agreed a factor. In the past if my wife has been back in the UK and I have had a stressful day I will just grab something that I probably should not but that is quick. These days I have learned how to control that tendency.
 
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DynamicSpirit

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There are plenty of scholarly articles linking Obesity and Poverty, there are statistics freely available which links obesity and poverty, and there are various charities, government policies, campaingns etc that all support that Obesity is linked to poverty Evidence is available. Feel free to google it.
Sure. And personally I'm happy to accept that there is a link between obesity and poverty. But the claim originally made earlier in this thread and which people were challenging was that poverty is the main cause of obesity. That is a very different statement.

If you still want 'evidence' just look out the window. There is a reason you see the dumpy little 'chavletts' and don't see chubby posh totty. You can literally see the disparty for yourself on the high street. You can see in the statistics that areas of low income have higher obesity rates.
That's correlation. You need more than correlation to show causation. Though to be fair, the anecdotal stuff you mention about your own difficult life points in that direction.

As I say, I'm from a low income background. When I was groing up we spent most of our time on the streets playing. We had parks and local community centres (typcially run by the local church) My only outlet for exercise was 'playing out' I didn't go to the Gym like the middle classes do. Most of us couldn't afford a bike so were sharing one for the whole family.
You don't need a gym or a bike to do exercise (though I'll grant it makes it easier). Walking and running are both free. Following fitness videos on youtube is free if you have a reasonable home Internet connection. Lots of places have very basic, free-to-use, outdoor gyms. Playing ball games requires a ball and a couple of friends (or family) to join in.

The evidence is out there. I am unsure why people are ignoring it.
I'm not sure that people are ignoring it. More a case of, people are objecting to the idea that seems to be becoming popular in left wing circles - that obesity is entirely caused by poverty - which would lead to the conclusion that all the Government has to do to solve obesity is lift people out of poverty. I'm pretty sure that's wrong. There are all sorts of reasons for trying to lift people out of poverty (which is an appalling stain on our society), but you're still not going to solve obesity unless you can get people to take responsibility for their own health, in a way that too many people - both rich and poor - currently don't do.
 

londiscape

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There is also correlation between poverty and poor mental health. Exercising properly and making good healthy food out of cheap ingredients requires time, effort and motivation. If we disregard time, those having mental health problems can understandably be short of effort and motivation.
 

Envy123

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There are obviously exceptions, but in general it does take longer to produce a healthy meal than an unhealthy one.
When cooking from scratch, making an unhealthy meal is more difficult than a healthy one. More involved processes and lots more ingredients.

But of course, putting a ready meal in an oven or microwave is easier than cooking.
 

Bletchleyite

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When cooking from scratch, making an unhealthy meal is more difficult than a healthy one. More involved processes and lots more ingredients.

But of course, putting a ready meal in an oven or microwave is easier than cooking.
It is, but there's a nice halfway house there - cook in bulk and freeze to make your own ready meals.
 

Envy123

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It is, but there's a nice halfway house there - cook in bulk and freeze to make your own ready meals.
I know, that’s what I do.

My point is that making healthy food is pretty easy. I just choose not to make it because I love salt, sugar and fat. So I go through the extra effort to make unhealthy food.

Well, it’s not Paula Deen unhealthy. It still has lots of veggies, but the sauces make up most of the calories.
 

Bletchleyite

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True, most of these "cook in bulk" meals are sauce-based meals that can be (but don't have to be) quite calorific - curries and the likes.

An oven-cooked turkey/chicken breast and roasted vegetables takes exactly the same amount of effort to make as turkey twizzlers and oven chips. Put on a baking tray, drizzle a little oil over the top, put in the oven. Though it can be more expensive.

(Actually, I don't get why people use oven chips when you can slice a potato, drizzle in oil and cook in the oven and it's nicer! Potatoes purchased in a big bag are dirt cheap. It's probably no different calorifically though)
 

Envy123

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Turkey twizzlers were practically impossible for me to make. Tried it once, never again. :p

Sauce based meals also, from my experience, last pretty long even in the fridge. Other meals last 2-3 days before the texture becomes a bit off. I think there is a preservative effect from the sauces.

And said meals have plenty of veggies too. Hence why I go for the sauce based meals, at least for dinner.
 

DynamicSpirit

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(Actually, I don't get why people use oven chips when you can slice a potato, drizzle in oil and cook in the oven and it's nicer! Potatoes purchased in a big bag are dirt cheap. It's probably no different calorifically though)
I use oven chips a fair bit and it comes down to pure convenience (plus, looking at the nutrition information on typical oven chips, they appear to be reasonably healthy). Didn't realise it was that easy to do chips from potatoes without frying though. Maybe I'll try that. Can you freeze potatoes though?
 

Bletchleyite

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I use oven chips a fair bit and it comes down to pure convenience (plus, looking at the nutrition information on typical oven chips, they appear to be reasonably healthy). Didn't realise it was that easy to do chips from potatoes without frying though. Maybe I'll try that. Can you freeze potatoes though?
I can't say I've ever tried, they keep quite well anyway.

Oven chips aren't terrible for you (fairly similar, really, to a similar amount of spud in baked form plus a knob of butter), I just find them not very nice!
 

py_megapixel

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Oven chips aren't terrible for you (fairly similar, really, to a similar amount of spud in baked form plus a knob of butter), I just find them not very nice!
Oven chips are both very variable in quality and very easy to overcook. Unfortunately I don't really have any recommendations as they seem to vary from batch to batch of the same brand. But suffice it to say, the ones which claim to taste like "proper" chips rarely actually do
 

Bletchleyite

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Oven chips are both very variable in quality and very easy to overcook. Unfortunately I don't really have any recommendations as they seem to vary from batch to batch of the same brand. But suffice it to say, the ones which claim to taste like "proper" chips rarely actually do
The sliced potato with oil thing doesn't taste like deep-fried chips either, but in my view is nicer.

One warning if you're going to try that though - don't put the oven over 200 degrees or so. Too hot and you could end up with the baking-tray equivalent of a chip pan fire. And pre-heat the oven before putting them in - if you don't I find they tend to stick to the tray, whereas if you do they don't!
 

DynamicSpirit

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Most people who can afford things do not understand why other people can't afford the same things if only they really tried.
I'm sure that's to some extent true. But, even so, my own experience of shopping and just looking around me really doesn't really tally with the claim that healthy foods are more expensive than unhealthy ones - and therefore poor people can't buy healthy. I'm sure that's sometimes true, but not always. Carrots for example are very nutritious and at my local Sainsburies typically seem to work out at about something like 5p per carrot. Large wholemeal loaves of bread that can (with suitable spreads) provide quite a few meals are available for about the £1 mark. Tins of tuna in spring-water can often be picked up on offer at 4 for £1, while a tin of mackerel is about 60p, and a tin of chick peas about 30-40p. All those things can - with a small amount of effort and a few bits of seasoning/etc. be made into perfectly nutritious meals. On the breakfast cereal front, shredded wheat is about 3 quid for a pretty huge box, and skimmed/semi-skimmed milk is no more expensive than whole milk.

The system fundamentally generates enormous profits from people eating unhealthily, and economically punishes people trying to eat healthier food and take exercise.
How does the system punish people trying to eat healthier food and take exercise? Surely, if you buy anything from a private company, that company will be making some profits on the sale, no matter how healthy or otherwise the thing they are selling you is.

Finger jabbing from train enthusiasts about how people need to be making better life choices will change nothing.
But maybe if there was a bit more emphasis in our culture generally on expecting people to take responsibility for their own lives and their own health, rather than automatically viewing every overweight person as if they are a victim of some evil capitalist system, without any ability to make any decisions that might influence their own lives, then obesity levels would be lower? (And to be clear, that doesn't exclude that the Government should also be taking action to ensure people are better informed about health choices, and to make it easier to choose healthier lifestyles)
 

Starmill

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I'm sure that's to some extent true. But, even so, my own experience of shopping and just looking around me really doesn't really tally with the claim that healthy foods are more expensive than unhealthy ones - and therefore poor people can't buy healthy. I'm sure that's sometimes true, but not always. Carrots for example are very nutritious and at my local Sainsburies typically seem to work out at about something like 5p per carrot. Large wholemeal loaves of bread that can (with suitable spreads) provide quite a few meals are available for about the £1 mark. Tins of tuna in spring-water can often be picked up on offer at 4 for £1, while a tin of mackerel is about 60p, and a tin of chick peas about 30-40p. All those things can - with a small amount of effort and a few bits of seasoning/etc. be made into perfectly nutritious meals. On the breakfast cereal front, shredded wheat is about 3 quid for a pretty huge box, and skimmed/semi-skimmed milk is no more expensive than whole milk.



How does the system punish people trying to eat healthier food and take exercise? Surely, if you buy anything from a private company, that company will be making some profits on the sale, no matter how healthy or otherwise the thing they are selling you is.



But maybe if there was a bit more emphasis in our culture generally on expecting people to take responsibility for their own lives and their own health, rather than automatically viewing every overweight person as if they are a victim of some evil capitalist system, without any ability to make any decisions that might influence their own lives, then obesity levels would be lower? (And to be clear, that doesn't exclude that the Government should also be taking action to ensure people are better informed about health choices, and to make it easier to choose healthier lifestyles)
I think you've got completely the wrong attitude to be honest, which is presumably fine for you personally. However it doesn't seem to me that asking people to make difficult decisions while giving them zero help to do so is going to improve public health. Indeed that's been the policy for decades and the problem is worse than ever. I think it couldn't be clearer that it's not the fault of individuals, but of the system. Almost every single person in the country has good intentions about their own health, and almost nobody deliberately eats more than they need because they wish to conscisly risk their health for the benefit of enjoying eating more food. So why, then, despite all of that, is there still a crisis? Because of the access to resources and the systems people live in that drive them to eat unhealthily.

I can't really deal with your points as they stand because our starting positions are too far apart from one another. It would simply cause an enormous amount of time to be wasted without you understanding the theory being proposed. Your comparison of food prices is meaningless. Chick peas and raw carrots don't make filling meals. Value chicken nuggets and baked beans do, and work out cheaper per meal. It's easy for people who are more healthy to look at people who are less healthy and conclude they're responsible for it. Much easier than doing anything about it!

And I'm not anti-capitalist by any means, I am merely pro-regulation. And against massive subsidies to most of the menu at McDonald's, as the current government are offering...
 
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Trackman

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Skimmed milk is just utterly pointless - it's a thin watery liquid not dissimilar to a cup of water with a teaspoon of flour stirred in. You might as well give up milk and put tap water on your cereal.

30kcal is really easy to get back by doing a tiny reduction in portion size on your evening meal.
I lived someone who was on a very low fat diet because of gallstones I think.
All low or zero fat meals and food in the house - no problem, but the line was drawn against skimmed milk. urrgh.. So I bought my own semi skimmed milk.
 

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