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Registered Associate Nutritionist

Registered Associate Nutritionist

Make me Prime Minister

 Not sure if you are aware but I am a reality TV junkie!! I watch popular reality TV shows, including the following:

The Circle (Netflix, Channel 4)

Big Brother (Channel 4)

Love is blind (Netflix)

Too Hot to Handle (Netflix)

Love Island (ITV) 

Strictly Come Dancing (BBC)

Dancing with the Stars (Disney Plus)

The Apprentice (BBC)

There are more but it will practically take up most of this blog post, which is not what I want to do. What I really want to discuss is the obesity epidemic that has been rising before the covid 19 pandemic, and looking at the current data, this is not seeming to be declining any time soon. Data published by NHS Digital in May 2021 found that hospital admissions which were related to obesity had increased by 17%, however prescribing of medication which was in relation to obesity had decreased by 17%. Personally, this study shows that people are taking more of a hands-on approach to look after their health, and not relying on medication as much. The reason could be looking for further information online or seeking support from a health professional. Despite the various changes obesity is still here. The UK Government published a paper in July 2020, stating that 63% of UK residents are either overweight or obese. That is over half of the population. One in three primary school children are leaving school either overweight or obese. 

Going back to reality TV shows I am currently watching a new reality show called Make me Prime Minister. People from various areas across the UK have this belief that they would make a great Prime Minister. So the contestants are put through gruelling challenges, and the winner of this competition would be crowned the "Alternative Prime Minister"

One of the tasks the contestants had to do was to develop and implement a new policy to tackle the obesity epidemic, something which is close to my heart. I will not spoil anything in case you do want to watch it here:

This is why I was keen to discuss this, as the covid-19 pandemic has not helped the situation at all. This weekend one of the plans from the tackling obesity agenda is to reposition foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar in supermarkets. So these items will no longer be available at the checkout aisles. I have noticed this being implemented by various supermarkets a few months ago, by replacing these unhealthy snacks with healthier options like low sugar snack bars, unsalted nuts or corn for example. Another supermarket even replaced this with something no related to food, and just displayed magazines instead. 

Over the past ten years that I have been blogging there has been various policies that had been implemented by the UK Government. I do remember some of these, including the reduction of portion sizes for foods high in sugar and saturated fat. This was aimed at food manufacturers, but I think also fast-food restaurants. This was a great idea as when we purchase these meals, we are not aware of the nutritional content in them, and it is nice to see that these particular snacks can be enjoyed, without worrying if the amount of salt or sugar is high enough to be considered unhealthy. By reducing the amount of sugar, we are in fact making better choices, and at the same time be able to enjoy our treats. 

A second policy that I remember that was good was the introduction of the traffic light and the Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA for short). It was displayed across food products to show the amount of saturated fat, salt, and sugar. For the traffic light label this was done in colours. Red was for have this food item occasionally, as it contained a high amount of the nutrient, Amber meant it contained a medium amount of that nutrient, so it can be consumed but not too often. Green meant that it contained a low amount of that nutrient and can be consumed often, as it will have no effect on the body. Food manufacturers disagreed with the traffic light labelling, as they stated that this was making a negative impact on food choices for consumers, and they may end up not buying these at all. So instead, they decided to go for their own food labelling system called Guideline Daily Amounts. The way that the food product was labelled was done in percentages. So, for example, if a chocolate bar contains 50 grams of sugar, and the recommended daily amount for sugar was 100 grams, the percentage would be 50% of the recommended intake for sugar, which means that we would have 50% left for the rest of the day to have more sugar (if we chose to do so) 

This was done for sugar, salt, fat and saturated fat across usually the "unhealthy items". 

A final policy that was implemented which stuck to my mind was the increase of physical Activity in Schools. I cannot remember the amount or how often but prior to the policy Physical Activity was not mandatory and it was done once a week. Physical Activity is very important across all ages regardless of gender, disability or ethnicity, as physical activity has a wide range of benefits on the body. I will link my previous blog article on this here: Exercise

From the previous policies mentioned above, it was clear that these ideas were great and are still going now, another one I will quickly mention is the ban of tv adverts showing food products that are high in fat and sugar during a certain time. All of these policies are great we just need more ideas to keep up with the obesity crisis, so that that this does not cause more impact on the NHS, which is in a crisis at the moment as I am writing this. This will need various interventions from a wide of services including involving more Allied Health Professions. This is the reason I decided to make a blog over 10 years ago, to share my hints and tips to lead a healthier life. I will of course continue to share these for as long as possible. 

Finally, I have to mention the show, it is really good! I do forget that the judges Allistair Campbell and Baroness Varsi were ex politicians and know the various challenges being a Prime Minister can be. I hope the season gets renewed for a second series. At the moment I will be tuning in every week! 



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