Tax Sugary Drinks And Ban Fast Foods Near Schools, Say UK DoctorsMain Category: Obesity / Weight Loss / Fitness
Also Included In: Public Health | Nutrition / Diet
Article Date: 18 Feb 2013
As a "prescription" for the UK's obesity epidemic, doctors are calling for a tax on all sugary soft drinks, a ban on fast food outlets near schools and colleges, mandatory food-based standards in all hospitals, and £100 million ($155 million) spent on weight management services provisions, says a new report issued today by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC)
The report, titled "Measuring up: the medical profession's prescription for the nation's obesity crisis", and written by doctors from various fields of medicine, including general practice, paediatrics, surgery and psychiatry, sets out their recommendations for combating obesity, which has become a serious public health concern in the country.
Researchers and doctors have been warning about the ever-growing problem of adult and childhood obesity in England. Professor Martin Lombard, England's National Clinical Director for Liver Disease, warned in July 2011 that up to 500,000 overweight/obese children in England have a serious risk of developing fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease is the result of a build-up of fat in the liver, which causes inflammation and scarring; this can in severe cases progress to liver failure.
Described as "an action plan for future campaigning activity", the report sets out 10 recommendations for schools, national and local government, and healthcare professionals for the country's obesity epidemic.
Below are the ten recommendations:
Pediatrician, Professor Terence Stephenson, chair of the AoMRC, said:
- All UK hospitals should have compulsory food-based standards
- New fast-food outlets should not be allowed to open near schools and colleges
- A 20% extra tax to be levied on all sugar-sweetened beverages (a pilot scheme)
- All food labelling should have a traffic-light system which details calorie data for adolescents and kids. Restaurants, especially fast-food ones, should have clearly visible calorie indicators
- £100 million ($155 million) should be spent annually for the next three years on enhancing provision of weight management services throughout the country
- Foods which are high in saturated fats, salt and sugar should not be advertised on TV/Radio before 9pm
- Free schools and academies in England should have mandatory food-and-nutrient-based standards
"As health professionals, we see it across all our disciplines - from the GP's surgery to the operating table and everything in between. So it is no exaggeration to say that it is the biggest public health crisis facing the UK today. Yet too often, vested interests dub it too complex to tackle. It's now time to stop making excuses and instead begin forging alliances, trying new innovations to see what works and acting quickly to tackle obesity head on - otherwise the majority of this country's health budget could be consumed by an entirely avoidable condition.
Today's report marks the start of a campaign. We'll be working with a range of expert individuals and organisations to take each of these recommendations forward. The healthcare profession has taken the step of uniting to take action - and we're calling on others to step up and take responsibility too."
As background information, the authors revealed that:
A PDF report can be found at www.aomrc.org.uk/projects/obesity-steering-group.html.
- 24% of UK women and 22% of men are obese
- By the age of 9 years, one in every three children in the UK is now obese/overweight
- The United Kingdom has the highest obesity rate in the European Union
- Over the last decade, obesity in kids aged younger than eleven years has increased by more than 40%
- By 2020, half of all British children will be obese/overweight if current trends continue
- The National Health Service (NHS) could be spending £10 billion ($15.5 billion) annually dealing with obesity-related conditions by 2050
What is obesity?
Obese people have accumulated so much body fat that their health can be affected negatively. If your bodyweight is at least 20% higher than it should be for somebody of your height, age and bone structure, you are probably obese (unless you are very muscle-bound).
An overweight person has a BMI (body mass index) of 25 to 29.99, while obese people have a BMI of at least 30.
Calculate your BMI using our BMI Calculator.
If you are a competitive athlete or very muscly, BMI is probably not a good way to determine whether you are overweight or obese.
What are the health risk associated with being obese?
Written by Christian Nordqvist
- Type 2 diabetes - most people with type 2 diabetes developed the disease because they were obese and physically inactive.
- Stroke - according to researchers from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, middle-aged women who are obese have a higher risk of stroke. Other studies have found a similar link among men.
- Sleep apnea - obese people are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea. Research has shown that obese people who lose weight also experience improvements in sleep apnea symptoms.
- Osteoarthritis - degeneration of the bones and cartilage. Obese women are nine times more likely to develop knee-joint osteoarthritis, compared to females of normal weight.
- Many cancers - obese people have a higher risk of developing several cancers, including cancer of the pancreas, kidneys, esophagus, colon, rectum and uterus. A Swedish study showed that obesity (or diabetes) in seniors considerably increases breast cancer risk. Obese people with prostate cancer are more likely to have aggressive forms of the disease.
- Hypertension - high blood pressure. Excess fat (adipose) tissue causes the body to secrete substances which trigger a reaction in the kidneys, leading to hypertension. Obese people generally produce more insulin, which elevates blood pressure.
- Gallbladder disease - the liver of obese people overproduces cholesterol, which is delivered to the bile, oversaturating it - this damages the gallbladder.
- Dyslipidemia - high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Coronary heart disease - obese people have a greater chance of developing coronary heart disease.
- Breathing problems - in obese people, the chest becomes heavier and more difficult to lift; also the lungs are decreased in size.
Copyright: MediLexicon International Ltd
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