There was an array of articles last month about some new research coming out from Sweden about the effects of obesity and health which painted a more serious picture than previously thought. The Swedish research team tracked 4 million people over 40 years and found that excess weight was linked to 30 types of cancer, with weight being involved with 40% of all cancers seen during the study. The articles also highlighted the cost of the obesity situation which is staggering, with 19 billion a year on the NHS alone (around 12.5% of total budget) and this amount set to increase going forwards. 
The data on excess weight and negative health continues to pile up. The key threshold for weight is the increase from normal range BMI (<25) to the cusp of obesity (30+)*. The articles go on to call for governments to do more to help and discuss some rather weak and ineffective measures to address it, e.g. the couch to 5km app I was moaning about a few weeks ago and putting taxes on junk food.


What Does This Mean For You

I fairly frequently include this type of research in my newsletter as people are only half aware of the seriousness on their health from being high on the BMI scale. This is understandable because the effects on health are a long way off and we are not overly good at reacting to things so far down the line. Secondarily, as 66% of the population is overweight or obese it hardly seems a crisis if everyone else is doing it. While this may appear true, there was a time where almost everyone was smoking and they thought the same.

We can all agree that getting into shape is not easy, but at same time I do not feel it is the hardest thing in the world neither. You must first face the facts that to change your results tomorrow something must be given today. It comes back to the saying ‘do something today that your future self will thank you for later’, (as homer simpson once joked about>>). 

I feel a lot of resentment in change is at this basic level, you don’t want to change anything, well, you need to adjust something, so just get over it. Some very small changes can lead to considerable results. The key is not going too far, we often get swept up in early motivation and change too much so it becomes unsustainable. This coupled with total impatience or a lack of understanding on how long it takes to get results causes most people to quit. 


I am always writing about what you could do to change your body but what about changing society as the research says we desperately need. Real world solutions are possible but implementation would take a big, profound and consistent change of approach. 

Weight loss research shows the best thing we can do is never let anyone gain weight in the first place. This means we must address the kids while young, which must include the parents and teachers of course as it is hard to teach what you do not know. A massive campaign, with catchy type slogans and behaviour lessons would need to be launched. This should focus on all the things we do not do now, or even consider healthy. This would include; 

– Not finishing food on the plate (‘Always Leave a Bit When You Bite’)

– Eat only when hungry (‘No hunger, no Try’)

– If eat too much then missing a meal or eating less later (‘Overeat Today, Undereat Tomorrow’).

– Encourage movement every day (’10k a Day to Keep Weight at Bay’) 

There are probably more things to do add such as whole foods and sure some boffin could come up with better slogans than my 5 minutes of thinking but you get an impression of what is needed. 

The biggest block to pursuing this would of course be everyone! Simply using the word ‘weight’ is a trigger for many now, people still think finishing their food affects hungry African kids and missing a meal will lead to accusations of causing eating disorders. This is why I don’t think you can turn this around at a practical level in the real world. Think of the government movement around covid, massive action and it changed our behaviours. No politician or health agency is going to pin this sort of approach on their election ticket. They sort of tried with smoking, but take people’s favourite food away and you will soon be kicked out of office. 


If you have no intention of losing body fat, the great news is if you do exercise regularly and get fit you can offset a huge amount of the problems that come with it. It is the basis of the body positivity’s movement counter arguments against weight loss and has some solid data behind it. This will of course involve you doing some exercise but you can at least have your cake and eat it. 

Photo – The study mentioned in the articles and Homer Simpson not helping his future self.


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