The Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dame Sally Davies, made the headlines last week. In her annual report she said “I advocate recognising obesity at the level of a “national risk.”” This was interpreted by the Daily Mail as “Obesity in women as dangerous as terror threat” – presumably because terror threats are also a national risk. Flooding is also a national risk – not sure if “Obesity in women as dangerous as flooding” would have worked! It got the headlines anyway.
The choice to focus on women’s health in the annual CMO report generally was interesting. I support the rationale – it enabled an important and high level document to cover: pregnancy and pre and post natal health; predominantly, or exclusively, female cancers; female genital mutilation; menopause; domestic violence (suffered by both genders, but more by women) and other gender topics. The one topic that made the headlines, obesity and weight, is actually more relevant to men. As the March 2015 National Statistics Report shows (page 7): 67.1% of men are obese or overweight vs. 57.2% of women.
Whenever I hear public health officials speaking with good intentions about the obesity epidemic, I just want to bang them over the head with the eatbadly plate and ask them how on earth they can hope to do anything about weight and health when that is considered to be role model healthy eating. I have thought about approaching Dame Sally, but she is well and truly wedded to the calorie theory and people who believe we just need to eat less and/or do more are notoriously difficult to change.
Our own Christmas strategy
For those of us not wedded to the calorie theory, who realise that what we eat and even how often we eat is more important than how much we eat, here are some tips for getting through the Christmas period...
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