Obesity is a challenge as big as climate change and Covid

LIKE millions of women, I have spent years yo-yo dieting, obsessed with being skinny.

Even when I went through a phase of using dodgy slimming pills, I didn’t think or care about my actual health because it wasn’t ingrained in me. “Health” was never taught to me as a kid. Diets were.

My mum sold The Cambridge Diet from our living room and I would listen in to conversations about how a body should look, not what it could do. I heard about being skinny, not being healthy. As a result, I didn’t eat a balanced diet.

At school, despite being an overweight kid, I’d go back for thirds of steamed pudding and neon-pink custard without anybody explaining to me what I was doing to my body.

For years, my unhealthy relation­ship with food continued — eating loads, then dieting like mad trying to lose the weight. This is the kind of mindset that has left millions vulnerable to a health problem that has already killed many more than coronavirus: Obesity. More than a quarter of British people (28 per cent) are obese.

A further 36 per cent are overweight. Obesity is one of our biggest killers, associated with diabetes, heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer and dementia. It is putting huge pressure on the NHS, costing a staggering £6.1billion annually. That is set to rise to £9.7billion by 2050.

Yes, many obese people have medical and genetic conditions. But in the main, the problem is down to how we live our lives, the bad habits we have got into. To prevent the next generation struggling too, we must change those habits and look at how we educate them. And we must do it NOW.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the next generation focused on having a positive body image so they could have self-esteem, self-acceptance and a healthy relationship with food and exercise — instead of seeing “skinny” as a measure of happiness and success, and “fat” as failure?

Right now, a third of children aged two to 15 are overweight or obese. Youngsters are becoming obese earlier and staying an unhealthy weight into adulthood.


Play our part

Lockdown has turbo-charged the problem, with millions slumped at their computers and consoles ordering takeaways and fast-food deliveries for months on end.

But the solution is within our grasp. In schools, I would like to see the return of home economics classes for every pupil, teaching them the basics not only about cooking but how healthy eating and exercise prevent disease.

Boris Johnson must ensure his new Office for Health Promotion tackles the real root causes of the obesity epidemic rather than wasting time with ridiculous nanny-state plans to put calorie counts on beer.

And in the home, we all need to play our part for the next generation. We can’t just leave it to teachers and campaigners such as Jamie Oliver and Marcus Rashford.

We need to lay down rules on healthy eating for our youngsters and break the cycle of bingeing and dieting that afflicts so many teenagers. After all, dealing with obesity is just as important for their healthy future as fighting climate change or Covid.



There’s not a Lottie to her loungewear

MODEL Lottie Moss captioned a photo of herself, in pink undies with matching pink lipstick, “Lounging around the house.”

She also tweeted: “Haven’t been able to keep a man longer than a week for literally ever, am I the problem lol?”

No . . . of course not. Why would anybody not instantly think you’re looking for a long-lasting, meaningful relationship.

Heaven forbid.

CASH BOOST

THE late gambling tycoon Stuart Wheeler clearly didn’t believe charity begins at home when he was drawing up his will.

He left his £15million manor house, Chilham Castle in Kent, to charity, cutting his daughters out of their expected inheritance.

Ouch.

CELEBRATE A JOYFUL NOEL

THE images of Noel Thomas weeping with relief on Friday after he was finally cleared at the Royal Courts of Justice in London of false accounting are heartbreaking.

He is one of the dozens of former sub-postmasters wrongly convicted of accounting offences, including theft and fraud, because of the Post Office’s defective computer system.

Noel, 74, was jailed for nine months in 2006 over a bogus £48k shortfall.

It has taken him 15 long years – since he was in his fifties – to clear his name and will never get those years back.

I doubt Noel is ever going to forgive or forget but I truly hope his compensation cheque is massive and that he enjoys every second of spending it.

IT’S THE PRICE OF LOVE

CONGRATULATIONS to Katie Price on her engagement to car dealer Carl Woods.

I hope it works out for her.

I mean it. No sarcasm. No bitching. She has had some shocking luck with men in the past.

They have shunned her, cheated on her and used her. I hope it’s seventh time lucky.

Andrew’s antics

THE Spanish woman who caused a security alert when she got into Prince Andrew’s official home by telling guards she was his fiancée is ill and has now been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

It makes you wonder if the bungling guards who let her in are totally incompetent – or does Andrew get so many female visitors that they now just wave them through?

ANT’S A MAN OF TASTE

ANT McPartlin might be a millionaire with an OBE who lives in a big, swanky house in London.

But the first thing the Geordie did when he went home to Newcastle was to get himself down to Greggs and buy a stottie (if you’re not northern, like me, they are a big, round, flat, squidgy bread bun).

I’m with Ant – you can keep your posh sushi and fancy dinners.

There is nothing better than the occasional stottie sandwich full of ham and pease pudding.

GRETA’S MEATBALL PRIDE

ACTIVIST Greta Thunberg said that as a Swede she was “deeply offended” when a radio listener called Ikea meatballs disgusting, because they are, according to Greta, a “national pride”.

She’s a vegan.

KATE’S CARING CHARM

I AM in awe of the Duchess of Cambridge.

At Prince Philip’s funeral she shone out as a strong, supportive royal, who even managed to make a face mask look amazing.

Plus, she tried to be a peacemaker between her husband and brother- in-law. Which, let’s face it, is pretty big of her after being slagged off fairly royally in that vile Oprah chat.

This week she showed off her other side, as a loving mum.

Down-to-earth Kate has a passion for photography and released a picture of youngest son Prince Louis on a bike ride ahead of his third birthday on Friday.

We have all realised in the past couple of weeks just how lucky the Queen was to have Prince Philip as her husband for 73 years.

He was a funny, caring, no-nonsense dad who supported the Queen in everything she did. And I think William is just as lucky to have The Duchess of Cambridge by his side.

LESSON FOR SIR

BEING sent home from a school trip in disgrace is always horrendous. It’s a new low, though, if it’s the teacher.

That’s what happened to Richard Glenn, 55, who was in charge of a group of 16 to 18-year-olds from a posh Northumberland boarding school for an excursion to Costa Rica.

The computer science teacher’s behaviour was dreadful – he flashed at a colleague, was violent and got caught boozing with his pupils and taking them to a strip club.

He claimed he couldn’t remember any of it because he was so drunk. I bet his students can.

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