Friday, 28 October 2011

Is the Government doing enough to tackle obesity?

The number of obese and overweight people across the UK is incredible; nearly 70% of the population now fill this category. Yet the government does not appear to be facing up to this issue and trying to reduce the high numbers of deaths linked to obesity each year. Compare this to the number of deaths caused by things like drink driving or smoking and how much government money has gone into reducing these and it doesn’t look like we’ve been getting value for money.
Drink driving and speeding
Everyone has seen that drink driving advert with the barman playing all the different roles and playing out that other bloke’s life if he has another drink, I bet most people even know all the words (I know I do!). Or what about those adverts about speeding with the little girl saying “if you hit me at 30mph....” in that cute voice that makes you feel guilty about speeding. I haven’t got exact figures but I bet these campaigns weren’t cheap.
"....So, what's it going to be?"

So, given the effort by the government, you would think that this is a major contributor to the number of deaths in the UK each year, easily in the thousands. Yet, the total number is only in the low hundreds.
What about smoking?

This images are shocking, would you buy a McDonalds
if similar pictures were on their packets?

Smoking has long been a big problem in the UK and comes with lots of bad consequences, just like obesity. It accounts for around 80000-100000 deaths in the UK. To reduce this, the government seems to have done an awful lot; there have been TV adverts, there are those disgusting pictures of diseased lungs on cigarette packets and there is even a smoking ban in workplaces. This amount of effort to reduce the number of smokers is, no doubt, an expensive measure, a lot more money seems to be spent on this than has been spent on the issue of obesity.
I don’t want to get into a huge moral debate about what lives are more valuable than others nor am I saying that the money spent on these campaigns has been wasted.
So, what’s being done about obesity?
As I’ve already said, 70% of the UK’s population is now overweight or obese. That’s nearly 70% of the population that have an increased risk of coronary heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers. Over time, and even already, this will put a huge strain on the NHS.  Cardiovascular disease is the single largest killer in the UK and it has been proven through research time and time again that those that are physically fit reduce their risk. Why then, are the government not doing much to get Britain active?
On the official Number 10 website, the PM’s official page, not once does it mention reducing obesity as a priority. In terms of sport, the only priority seems to be hosting a successful Olympic games. Speaking of the Games, was this not supposed to be a springboard to get the UK into sport? I don’t think there has been any sort of surge in numbers taking part in sport or even more people interested in the Olympics.

The Change 4 Life campaign,
with the jelly baby people

I had thought that there was no government backed campaign to improve the health of the UK from exercise and a better diet. When doing some research though, I stumbled on the “Change for Life” campaign. Can you remember it? Their adverts have got what I think look like jelly baby people. I think the biggest testament to the success of this campaign is the fact that I, and probably you, could not even remember it, never mind any of the information it is giving.
I think it’s pretty clear that obesity is a big problem in the UK (no pun intended) and that something has to be done. What’s clearer is that the UK government is not delivering.
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