Who’ll take responsibility for UK obesity epidemic?

It becomes apparent that the expanding waistlines in the UK are the result of our nation’s passion for over-indulgence, washed down with sugary drinks and endless nights of binge-drinking.

It becomes apparent that the expanding waistlines in the UK are the result of our nation’s passion for over-indulgence, washed down with sugary drinks and endless nights of binge-drinking. While in moderation nothing can hurt, the constant high-calorie foods consumption has a disastrous effect on our health and well-being. According to the latest NHS report, almost 37 percent of the population in England is overweight and over 26 percent can be classed as obese!

The obesity rate in adults has increased by over 10 percent in the last fifteen years. However, the most concerning part of the report regards children. In 2010, 17 percent of boys and 15 percent of girls aged between 2 and 15 is said to be obese, with a shocking one fifth of pupils in Year 6 carrying the excess weight. Are young people not provided with the opportunities for an active lifestyle and healthy meals? With a half a litre bottle of Coke, that covers over a half of the recommended daily allowance for sugar intake, apparently not.

The pace in which Britain has gone from the slimmer era to the “fattest” country in Europe is astonishing. The public cannot deny that the choices we make on daily basis are largely responsible for our cholesterol-clogged arteries. But then, are we the ones in charge of what standards does a product have to meet to appear on the food market? Certainly not.

The government, since the war has contributed to the current obesity epidemic with their lack of enforcement in the food industry. The big food companies were allowed to exert a huge influence over the nation – mostly for profit. It dates back to 1955 where the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was responsible for nation’s health and the food production. Only in 2001, shocking revelations about food industry’s lobbying in the government have surfaced. Even nowadays, food manufacturers are not required by the law to label the product accurately. As revealed by a BBC documentary, the sugar industry, which funds the World Sugar Research Organisation, pays a sweet price for avoiding the link with obesity and its implications. It seems almost too easy to disguise sugar with terms like glucose, dextrose or fructose on the packaging.

Additionally, the economic crisis is affecting what we put in our shopping baskets. The supermarket “Buy One Get One Free” deals on sweets, packets of cookies or sugar-laden doughnuts are more appealing than an over-priced, tiny carton of berries. With the availability and cheap price does it not seem like a win-win situation to those with a lower income? Guilty as charged. As students living on a tight budget, we want to fill up quickly while spending as little as possible.

From the early 90s, the cigarettes manufacturers are forced by EU to display an unambiguous warning about the health implications of smoking. The food industries should be required to do the same. It is difficult to predict the effectiveness of the tactic to stop the increase of obesity. However, the public deserves to know, and clearly is in a need of a strong reminder of how dangerous the excessive consumption of the indulgent products, wrapped in shiny packaging can be.

The concern is not only our jeans size, obesity increases the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and strokes. The alarming obesity rate is a wake up call to start taking more responsibility, use the nutritional information we are familiar with and give a little more thought to what we put in our bodies. Don’t be put off by thinking that this translates as living off “rabbit food,” it could be as simple as saying no to the “fries with that.”

What do you think is the solution for the issue of obesity in Britain? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user C.G.P. Grey.