Does the Government Keep Britain Fat?

Good old Michael Moseley. He’s made another documentary to highlight how our government is more interested in the money and power of big corporations than taking strong action to help reverse the steep decline in the nation’s health and save the NHS from imminent collapse.

Here are a few points from Channel 4’s Who Made Britain Fat?{with my comments like this}.

We’ve seen 30 years of failed strategies.

{I think it’s longer than that. The introduction of the nutritional guidelines in the 80s was a failed strategy and the Government has repeatedly failed to deal with the obesity epidemic it caused. Actually there are examples from much longer ago too. In England we had attempts to prevent the sophistication (adulteration) of beer somewhere around the 11th century. In 1816 we had an act outlawing brewers just for possessing sugar.}

Where are we?

Over 1 million people were in hospital last year with complications from obesity.

Nearly 2/3 of the population is now overweight or obese.

In children, 1 in 7 are obese before reaching reception year.

That’s up from 1 in 10 only 2 years ago {a whopping 40% relative increase}.

A quarter of 10-11 year olds are obese.

Over 40% of 11-12 year olds are overweight or obese. {That’s nearly half!!!!}

We have 1 year olds with type 2 diabetes and 3 year olds with sleep apnoea. Some have non alcoholic fatty liver disease and will need liver transplants later.

{It’s shocking – but much more so because it was always avoidable.}

Government Policies

In 1992, the Government stated its aim to reduce obesity in “The Health of the Nation”. Since then there have been 689 policies. Obesity increased and is now 28%. Government spending on all this is huge – but still less than the advertising spend of just one of the fast food giants. {And there are a lot of junk food companies. Big business is significantly richer and more powerful than the Government.}

The Government has focussed on providing information to encourage customers to change their behaviour rather than impose restrictions on the food companies. It hasn’t worked.

They’ve also focussed on exercise – which is great for health but a poor way to lose weight. {The energy balance myth is a favourite of companies like CocaCola and the diet clubs. You cannot outrun a bad diet. Weigh loss is about hormone responses to different types of foods.}

Junk food companies use sports sponsorship to promote their products. It’s called ‘sports washing’. Forest Green Rovers is the first team to reject all fast food sponsorship.

[Sugar

As an aside, around the same time on Channel 5, Dr Amir Khan presented his Sugar Crash (How to Give up Sugar and Lose Weight). Obesity related health problems cost the country £27 billion a year. The recommendation is to eat no more than 30g added sugar a day but many people exceed this. Sugar is addictive, releasing dopamine and stimulating the same parts of the brain as hard drugs. Dr Amir did an experiment on himself by eating 170g of added sugar a day for 4 weeks. It affected his mood, bowels, waistline (gained 2.5kg).

He came off it cold turkey. His food tasted of nothing and he had terrible cravings – typical drug withdrawal. He said group support can be helpful. He was glad when he felt back to normal.]

Back to Micahel Mosley –

Food Environment

In Tower Hamlets there is a road known as ‘The Chicken Mile’ with 42 takeaway chicken shops for every secondary school.

Deprived areas have 5 times more fast food outlets than more affluent areas and the people suffer more obesity.

In the first half of 2021, takeaways were the fastest growing businesses {helped by the Government who left them open during lockdown when they shut so many other businesses}.

Supermarkets

In supermarkets, ~40% of the food we buy is on offer. Promotions make us spend 20% more than we would otherwise. Most of them are for unhealthy stuff. {When the marketing focusses on food products or drinks being ‘cool’ or ‘fun’ to eat or drink, you know they’re not going to boost your health and can expect them to do you harm.}

There are new regulations about promotions so supermarkets are working on ways to get round the regulations. They tempt us in every way possible with eye-level product placement, smells, end of aisle, checkout products. They’re also fighting against the next set of regulations.

Food Deliveries

And of course lockdown saw an unbelievable increase in food deliveries, with spending up 62%. It rocketed during covid but, worryingly, is not slowing down. People generally consume twice as many calories as they would with home cooking. It’s also very expensive. A man on the programme spent £400 one month. Sometimes he would buy 3 times in one day. The companies send offers on their app and he said it’s addictive.

GPs

Patients go to their doctors wanting bariatric surgery. They’re desperate.

GPs don’t feel equipped to offer dietary advice {they don’t get training on nutrition} or to talk about weight. Extra money given to GPs by Government is mainly used to refer patients to the diet clubs {where almost all of them will lose weight then regain it in the classic yo-yo cycle.}

What Does Work?

Leeds focussed on early years intervention in their Henry programme – and it worked. They reduced childhood obesity by 6.4% between 2009 and 2016. Families learn to cook together more. It was suspended during covid and child obesity has gone up 4% since. {Over 50% of the food eaten in Britain is ultra processed, lacking in nutrients and containing many health-damaging ingredients like vegetable (seed) oils, sugar and chemicals. When more food is prepared at home from fresh ingredients, it has a dramatic effect.}

{A snippet of my own recent experience

To make money, big businesses have altered our opinions and beliefs around what is fit to eat.

I’ve been to four events recently, a business meeting, a charity event, a Christening and a funeral. In each case the tables were laden with beige. Cakes, sandwiches, pies, pizza, things wrapped in pasty and things I couldn’t identify at all (most made in factories).

The events were great. The intent was sincere. The people were wonderful and being with them was a joy. The shops are full of these things and relentless advertising and product placement has normalised eating this way. But as long as we think that eating this way is fine, we’ll continue to suffer the misery of health conditions it causes: obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, fatty liver etc etc.

It’s clear that the government lacks the will, the wit and the clout to stand up to the food giants and change things. It’s up to each individual to protect their own health. Ignore the junk-food shops you walk past in town. Delete the delivery apps. Take some real food when you go to a party. Staying slim and healthy has never been such hard work but you are well worth the effort.}

Top tip: Don’t let them make you fat!

Quote of the Month – Flawed Nutrition

It typically takes a lot longer for truth to become public knowledge than the finely orchestrated propaganda we are all exposed to on a daily basis, but eventually, truth tends to rise to the surface.

Dr Mercola

Butter is good

We’ve been scared off natural fats for decades based on a really shoddy study from America that made the food industry rich. Many better studies have shown that natural fats are good.

Seed oils are bad

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The now ubiquitous seed oils on the other hand are very, very bad.

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About 80% of what we see as doctors is in some way related to our collective modern lifestyles

Dr Rangan Chatterjee

This month Michael Moseley has exposed some of this on Channel 4’s Who Made Britain Fat?

Nearly 80% of the people hospitalised by the virus in America in 2020 were overweight or obese and it was a similarly significant risk factor here.

I doubt that the British government will ever come clean that they have been contributing to the chronic disease, misery and early death of the British people. I also doubt they are brave enough to put things right now, such is the power of Big Food.

I’ll end with this quote:

What if we focused on the ROOT CAUSE and used this pandemic as a catalyst for creating a healthier future?? We clearly have no problem with government overreach on how we live our lives all in the name of ‘health’ …..

What if we made the food that is making us sick illegal? What if we taxed processed food and refined sugar to pay for the impact of the pandemic? What if we incentivized health?

Jonathan Neman

CEO of Sweetgreen salad restaurant chain

Nutmeg

 

Nutmegs are the seeds of the nutmeg tree. The red lacy covering of the seeds is the rather spicier spice, mace.

cookipedia

You can buy ready ground nutmeg or whole nutmegs to grate as needed. They even sell special miniature nutmeg graters which are really cute even though any normal, fine grater works or a sharp knife. Whole nutmegs last much longer than ready ground. Like all herbs and spices, keep it somewhere dry and dark, away from extremes of temperature.

Nutmeg is rich in antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial hence sometimes used in dental products.

It has vitamins C, A and E, plus minerals manganese, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, potassium, copper and zinc.

Most famously it helps with sleep (you can put a few drops of aromatherapy oil on your pillow) and has some mood enhancing effects.

wiki

Nutmeg helps avoid blood-sugar spikes although is unlikely to cancel out the effects of childhood favourites; as topping on rice pudding, egg-custard tarts or in Christmas day apple sauce.

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All these benefit from the addition of nutmeg’s wonderfully warming taste as do hot chocolate, coffee and mulled wine.

Like many good foods, more is not better. This is one to use in moderation as large amounts are toxic so keep it to less than a teaspoon a day.

Bechamel sauce is used in lasagna; the nutmeg and bay give its distinctive fragrance.

Put a bay-leaf into 600ml (1 pint) of milk to infuse. Heat gradually until hot but not boiling.  Remove the bay-leaf.

Melt 40g (1½ oz) of butter in another pan.

Add 40g (1½ oz) of plain flour and cook stirring for a minute.

Take off the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring all the time. Return to the heat and simmer for 3 minutes until thickened.

Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Paprika

On our way up the M6 this month we popped into the farmshop at Tebay services. Having watched the programmes on the telly, I hoped (in vain) that they might have had some of the lovely, hand-made, wooden Christmas tree decorations left. Instead, what I did get, in the butchers, was some diced goat meat.

What to do with that? I’d never cooked or eaten goat before.

I found a few recipes on the internet which I combined (as I do) to cook it in the slow cooker with onions, garlic, tomatoes, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce and paprika.  I served it with a little rice and lots of veg.  Sorry, but I scoffed it all down without thinking to take a picture.

Incidentally, the website where I found one of the recipes turned out to be a bit of a gem. Delicious and Sustainable’s Mallen Baker is a real foodie. You’ll find recipes and cooking techniques lovingly detailed with pictures to whet your appetite.

http://deliciousandsustainable.com/article/recipes/slow-cooked-goat-stew

So that was the goat – which was delicious by the way, and as Mallen had promised, did not taste ‘goaty’.

On to the paprika.

 

Paprika is a capsicum – a type of chilli pepper – but not too hot. You might have had it in goulash soup. As a dried spice, there only used to be one type available but now you can also get Hot or Smoky flavours.

This bright orange powder contains vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and antioxidants. It’s high in vitamins C and A plus lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that can protect your retina from oxidative damage. All this suggests it’s good for eye health. It also contain vitamins B6, B9 (folate), E and K, plus minerals iron, potassium and magnesium.

Caution – it’s a member of the nightshade family like potatoes and tomatoes and some people are sensitive to the volatile alkaloids in this group.

And while I’m talking about spices, a company called Hunter and Gather has developed a range of unsweetened sauces. Things like ketchup often contain loads of sugar so this is a healthy switch. You can get a sample set including ketchup, barbecue sauce plus plain and garlic avocado oil mayonnaise.

 

Quote of the Month – Repeat

You get what you repeat.

James Clear

From Atomic Habits

This applies to your work, your finances, your health, everything that makes up your life.

Your body is the result of your daily little habits. Eat just a little better every day and you will become slim and healthy.  Do a diet for a few weeks this year and you’ll probably be having to do another one next year.

Build good habits a bit at a time.

If you set any New Year Resolutions, I hope they’re going well.  If you didn’t, or enthusiasm has started to wane, I’m doing a special Jackie’s Gee Up looking at Goals and Habits on Tuesday 15th February, 7:30 – 9pm on Zoom. In it, I’ll use some tips from international sport’s psychology and the Silent Coaching technique so you each finish the evening with a clear idea of where you want to get to and how.  Contact me to learn more.

Cloves

Last month I shared the soothing drink I have when I catch a cold: honey, lemon, ginger, cloves and coconut oil with hot water.

Why include cloves? Well they have anaesthetic properties, useful for a sore throat. You can even chew one or pop one against your gums if you have toothache.

In the depths of winter, mulled wine (gluhwein, vin brulé) is fantastically warming. There are cloves in that too as well as cinnamon and nutmeg.

When we were small, we used to stick cloves into an orange, with a bit of ribbon round, then put it in the airing cupboard to dry and give it to Grandma as a Christmas present. Smells divine!

We tend to use herbs and spices this way – for flavour and pleasure – without thinking much about their beneficial properties. As well as being a mild anaesthetic, cloves are anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, help digestion and reduce wind. They have been used as insect repellent.

We can buy them cheaply now but cloves and other spices used to be worth their weight in gold so they’ll actually really special.

Caution – some people have allergic reactions to cloves and they may interfere with blood thinners.

smart

Quote of the Month – Passion

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.

Maya Angelou

It’s good to have role models and here’s a lady with a philosophy to aspire to (although I doubt I’ll ever have her style!)

Wiki commons

Ginger

I’ve seen people grow ginger on gardening programmes but have never managed it myself. The part used in cooking is the root. Fresh gives the best flavour, peeled losing as little flesh as possible, then sliced or grated. Powdered is fine for cakes and biscuits.

Famously used for travel sickness, ginger also has great anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It has been used to manage osteoarthritis.

I’ve used it a lot recently so I thought I’d share a few ideas with you.

Like so many others, I caught a cold. There are few things more soothing to drink than a mixture of honey, lemon, ginger, cloves and coconut oil with hot water.

Also for the cold, I made some of James Wong’s potent soup which includes onion, ginger, chillies, garlic, chicken and mushrooms.

To top my low-carb porridge, I stewed some of the apples from my tree that were beginning to go soft in storage. I mixed in blackberries and bilberries picked in the summer and frozen, zingy ginger and lemon juice. Delicious.

From a community recipe book, our home-made burgers get a twist with ginger and soy sauce.

For a quick boost of nutrition, vegetable juices are refreshing – but can be rather bitter if you use wonderful dark, leafy greens like cavolo nero. Ginger is a useful flavour addition to make green juices more palatable. You can also add a piece of fruit like apple and some lime but take care not to juice too much fruit.

Make a tasty, nutritious dinner; stir-fry thin strips of beef with onion, mushrooms, ginger, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts before adding soy sauce.

I know a lady who’s a brilliant jam maker. Her rhubarb and ginger is fabulous.

How do you enjoy using ginger?