Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Big Mac Diet

It is reported today that "Fat people will be offered cash incentives to lose weight and take regular exercise under a radical Government strategy announced yesterday to tackle the obesity epidemic."

Apparently, Ministers believe that by giving people incentives to do something about their weight now, it will help avoid larger costs associated with treating cancer, heart disease and diabetes caused by obesity. Similar schemes have worked well in America and some insurance companies already offer discounts for people who go to the gym regularly.

Experts say that most of the population will be obese by 2050 unless urgent action is taken and the associated rise in ill health would cost the NHS £50 billion a year.

Other than going to suffer the self-inflicted torture of the rowing machine at Hartsdown gym at lunchtime as part of my New Year's resolution to stay fit, I rather wonder whether the greater population group targetted, will respond well to being offered money for weight loss. Should we be using our taxes, which quite obviously are not going far enough these days - given this year's council tax rises - to fund a national weight loss program? What do you think?

Do you know your own body mass index?

A person with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 is overweight, those with a BMI above 30 are classed as obese. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 25.

BMI is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in metres squared. A BMI of 20 to 25 is considered normal, 25 to 30 overweight, and over 30 obese.

So if you weigh 80 kgs and are 2 metres tall, it's 80kg divided by (2*2) = a BMI of 20


Mrs Tara Plumbing said...

Actually, I do know my BMI (between 24-25) and I know I'm too fat.
Fortunately, everyone else is so fat these days it means that I do not look too bad!

BMI is just a guide, muscle weighs heavier than fat.
So someone could have a low BMI but still have too much fat - this was demonstrated clearly on Saint Jamie Oliver's programme last week about people eating themselves to death.

The obesity problem has crept up on us over the last 30 years and is fundamentally connected to other aspects (or problems) in our society - our lifestyles - the food we eat the exercise we do not do.

I don't think giving fat folks more money will help.
I think the route causes of the problem need to be addressed.

Cookery lessons, food labelling, and banning cars so that people are forced to walk may all be a step in the right direction

Mr Friday said...

It makes me mad all this pandering to fat people.

Eat less and exercise more.

Hardly rocket science is it ?

Ewen Cameron said...

I’m not sure I trust body mass index. One astute journalist recently pointed out that using BMI alone, all of the England rugby squad would be judged clinically obese.

Whatever – I suspect mine is too low. I weigh the same as I did when I was 17 (now nudging Saga territory) - a touch over ten stone, which is low for someone roughly six feet tall.

I do believe we have bred a nation with bad eating habits. I work close to the two big Broadstairs secondary schools, and it’s entirely normal to see kids wandering back to school having purchased their “lunch” at the nearby supermarket. You’ve guessed it – a packet of fried snacks or chips and a large bottle of sugary fizz. Sadly, it shows.

I’m a little baffled. Our own kids eat well, none are overweight, and even the grandchildren, from one to five, have a healthy enthusiasm for anything from smoked salmon to good cheese. Nor is it expensive. A tuna-and-cheese baked spud costs, I reckon, probably around 50p to make.

Paying people to eat differently is no solution to anything. Anyway – how would you monitor it?


Ewen Cameron

Anonymous said...

Let them eat cake if they want to. We must get rid of this thinking that the State can dictate to the people. We have persecuted smokers and now its the turn of the fatties. Who next?

Mr Friday said...

Why should I pay more tax to subsidise NHS treatment of the "fatties" when they need treatment for heart disease etc ?

While we are on the subject I had a revolutionary idea to "encourage" weight loss recently. It always annoys me that airlines insist on a fixed kg luggage allowance and do not care how much the person themself weighs. So, I had an idea of a "passenger weight allowance" of, say 100kg which included the person and luggage. If, like me, you are not overweight or obese I could take 30kg of luggage on board. If you are fat and weigh 95g then you have 5g left for your cases before you have to pay excess weight charges.

I was so impressed by this idea that I wrote to Easyjet and BA suggesting it. Neither replied. Something tells me I may have more luck with Ryanair and I may approach them shortly.

What do readers think ?

DrMoores said...

Airlines use standard masses for passengers and baggage when working out "Traffic Load" of an aircraft. For international flights this is 84KGs adult and 35kgs child with a 13kg hold allowance!

Mr Friday said...

But, if I weight less than the standard adult then why can't I have extra luggage allowance ?

Whichever overall weight limit you apply you must admit Dr M it is a very good idea.

It may also prevent some of the sights you see on foreign beaches of 20 stone British tourists ruining the scenery for others.

DrMoores said...

It's a novel idea but I fear the airline would be sued under the existing human rights legislation for being "Fattist", a term used in the United States when I believe, an airline was sued for introducing a policy not a million miles away from your idea!

Mr Friday said...

To be honest, the average American makes our citizens look positively skinny so am not surprised they ran into problems there.

If they introduced it in the States then hardly any suitcases would be coming through to be loaded on at all....

What happens on planes at the moment if a really fat passenger takes up 2 seats - are they charged twice ?

Ewen Cameron said...

My rapidly rusting brain still tends to think in old money when it comes to body weight, but 84Kg is about thirteen stone 3 pounds - I'm surprised we still average as low as that.

On an entirely un-scientific glance around the cabin on the last occasion I flew I would have guesstimated about 16 stone. And several well over that (thankfully they did not sit next to or on me....)

Anonymous said...

Why don't we just refuse NHS care to fat people ? It is their own fault - isn't it ? While we are at it, let's refuse medical care to all the other groups we don't like either, people who are here illegally, mountaineers who put themselves in danger, swimmers who get out of their depth, hey, we could save the NHS millions ! BUT, if the overweight are not going to get the help they need, are we still going to demand they pay NI contributions ? Tell you what, why don't we just shoot them ?
I would remind all the bigots out there who are sitting in judgement of overweight people, there have been some very notable obese people in our history, should they also have had to suffer the ridiculous suggestions by Mr. Friday and others ? Think about it, Winston Churchill was no light weight, Queen Victoria, the Queen Mother, Gordon Brown (hardly slim), Patrick Moore, Marilyn Munroe was a size 16, where does it all end ? If I want to be overweight what business is it of any one elses ?
Maybe there are underlying reasons why people are fat, and no, I do not believe in the fat gene, I am fat because I love food and I'm a brilliant cook. It is my business, I pay for my NHS health care. Mr. Friday, I suggest you keep away from overweight people, don't talk to them or mix with them, you will soon find yourself friendless and alone.

Anonymous said...

My wife is very fat. She is also very loving, very funny and very popular ! Her weight 'problem' is not a problem for me or our many friends that love her. I think, then, I can speak with some experience about this subject. If we are going to start charging extra for obese people to fly, then how long will it be before we are demanding that tall people pay extra, or that disabled people are banned from flying ? It is the start of a slippery slope. Obese people are just as entitled to healthcare regardless of their size as the next person. Nobody intentionally has heart desease or joint pain or diabetes, all the illnesses associated with obesity happen to slim, healthy people too. If we are going to start examining the lifestyle of patients then consider rationing healthcare to drug addicts and alcoholics before you start victimising overweight people. It is all too easy when you do not have a weight issue to condemn the fat in our society. Is this what it has come to ? If my wife was an asylum seeker who arrived here on the back of a lorry, but was slim, nobody would say a word when she went to the A&E with chest pains.
Take a look at the nurses in the NHS, see how many of them are overweight !

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