Friday, 11 November 2011

The biggest threat to the NHS?

When asked in last week's BMJ what the biggest threat is to the NHS, Sir Richard Thompson stated quite simply, obesity.


Now Sir Richard is not a Daily Mail columnist, nor even a pr man for Rosemary Conley. He is the current President of the Royal College of Physicians and a former physician to her majesty Queen Elizabeth 2nd.

It seem staggering that something, at one level so simple, and yet so complex and pervasive, should be putting all of our health and well-being at risk. For we all need the services of the NHSat one time or another and there really is a finite financial pot of money. The problems start young. One in three children leaving primary school is overweight.

In 30 years of general practice I've been disheartened so much by patient's inability to lose weight and/or keep it off. The answer? Well I know of no magic bullet. I'll just make a few suggestions that I think are supported by some experience and evidence:-

1. Develop a positive attitude-happy people find it easier to control their eating. (Happiness is a subject for another time!)
2. If you are able take up slow running  (or at least walking), but do it for an hour 3-4 times per week. (Not enough time? That's for another time!!). Or get a pedometer and see how many steps you take each day. Aim for 10000.
3. If you can exercise have a goal-a half marathon or even a marathon-raise money for charity.
4. Drink more water through the day.
5. Have low fat bars at home for when you feel like snacking.
6. Use smaller plates for your meals.
7. Cut down your alcohol consumption-it it's wine-but  more expensive stuff!
8. Think of your children-would you smoke in front of them? Aim not to be obese in front of them!

Yikes-it's beginning to sound like a moral crusade. It's just so sad that so  much of our ill health is self inflicted. And that's before we talk about the risks of obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease.......
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