Weight Loss – Does Britain need to eat less?
This week Public Health England announced steps to reduce 20% of calories in popular foods by 2024 to tackle childhood obesity.
As they put it, ‘Too many children and most adults are overweight or obese, suffering consequences from bullying and low self-esteem in childhood, to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers as adults. An obese parent is more likely to have an obese child, who in turn is more likely to grow up into an obese adult.‘ The aim is to help people achieve weight loss and be healthier by cutting the calories consumed by eating less.
Public Health England’s challenge to the food industry is to reduce calories in their products, such as pizzas, ready meals and savoury snacks by changing recipes, reducing portion sizes and encouraging people to buy lower calorie products.
All very worthy stuff isn’t it? And no doubt the food industry, sensing the direction of policy and keen to continue healthy sales will produce products to meet this weight loss demand. Anything that makes life simpler will help although actually, such products already exist for those who choose to take them.
Personally I aim to eat relatively sensibly most of the time – having been ‘the fat kid’ at school, there is no way I want to go back to being overweight. I hated it. It impacted on my self esteem massively and created a negative spiral in that because I was unhappy I would eat more and being unfit I would avoid the embarrassment of exercise as much as possible. Which meant that I ate more and moved less and got bigger.
I grew tired of a life where I could only comfortably wear elasticated jogging bottoms most of the time. A life of doing everything I could to avoid games at school and where I would eat endless amounts of crap food to try and make myself feel better (no-one else in my family was fat; this was something that was all my own creation). Once I reached that tipping pint of misery I decided I had to do something about my own weight loss.
Weight Loss – The Missing Link?
Which is where I think all of these centrally led weight loss programmes fall down. Without the mind-set of wanting to change, nothing happens. Sure it can be made easier to achieve weight loss through reducing calories in foods and so on, yet people would still need to learn how to take control over their choices and eat the right amount for them.
I’ve worked with many weight loss clients and the vast majority of them know what they should be eating and yet find that it’s a battle to consistently apply what they know and to make those kinds of healthy choices, no matter how available healthier options are. More often than not there will be elements of emotional eating, being unable to notice that signal that they’ve eaten enough or bad habits that they are struggling to break.
Once those are addressed, people find they can eat the right amount, be in control over food and eating choices and make progress with their weight loss.
As I’ve mentioned, anything that makes it easier to make healthy choices is great, yet obesity is not just a matter of knowing what you should eat and being educated in that way. There’s a massive psychological component to eating. And until that gets addressed, I think that people will continue to struggle to achieve their weight loss goals.
To your health and happiness,
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