Sanjiva Wijesinha -writer and physician

Short stories, Travel and Health Information

Hugh’s Fat Fight

I recently viewed on BBC the British celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s intriguing documentary Hugh’s Fat Fight describing his campaign to motivate Britishers to lose weight.

Whether we are carrying too much unhealthy weight is measured by the Body Mass Index (BMI) – calculated as Weight in kilograms divided by the square of Height in metres. Current recommendations are that BMI should be between 20 and 25. A BMI over 25 but less than 30 is defined as being Overweight – while a BMI over 30 is classified as being Obese.

 Carrying more weight than your body was designed to support is one of the leading causes of premature death. Being Overweight has been shown to be dangerous while being so large as to be Obese is extremely dangerous, placing you at an even greater risk of dying early from diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

A study yearHealth effects of overweight and obesity in 195 countries over 25 yearspublished in the authoritative New England Journal of Medicine last drew attention to this ‘growing and disturbing public health crisis’.
Analysing data from 68 million persons between 1995 and 2015, the authors found being Obese and Overweight had greatly increased in these 195 countries – with the disease burden (notably heart disease and strokes) also increasing dramatically.

The statistics for Sri Lanka, I discovered, revealed that 12% of males and 19% of females were overweight while 2 % of males and 5 % of females were actually obese in 1980 – while in 2015, those numbers had increased to 19% of men and 28% of women being overweight with 4% of men and 9% of women being obese.

The figures for other countries were even more frightening. In Britain, 43% of males and 30% of females were overweight and 15% of males and 18% of females were obese in 1980; thirty five years later those figures had climbed to 44% of men and 32% of women being overweight with 23% of men and 25% of women being overtly Obese.

As Hugh pointed out, Britain is the fattest country in Western Europe with a quarter of its population obese! We in Sri Lanka cannot afford to be complacent – 2015 figures show that 23% of our men and 37% of our women are carrying more weight than is good for their health!

The truth is you cannot outrun a bad diet. We get fat because we consume too much of the wrong kinds of food and drink. Sugar, a prime source of calories, hides in the foods we love. Fizzy aerated waters and soft drinks have lots of added sugar. A can of Coca Cola contains about 8 ½ spoons of sugar, a pint of beer has about 225 calories and even a pack of “healthy” fruit juice from the supermarket has the equivalent of 8 spoons of sugar!

“Convenience foods” that we buy because we don’t have the time or inclination to prepare meals at home give us more calories than home-made foods. Eating from outside makes it easy for us to eat rubbish and get fat. Even if we don’t want to snack, someone or some company is trying to sell unhealthy snacks to us!

While the choice of food is ours, we make unhealthy choices because designing, advertising and selling mass produced food and drink is a lucrative big business.

Just look at 



This entry was posted on December 21, 2018 by in Uncategorized.

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