Without wishing to be over cynical, this really stands no chance at all of making any meaningful impact. Which is a shame as people will die. Please don’t misunderstand, as someone that coaches cycling, nothing would make me happier than every obese person in the UK waking up tomorrow and deciding they want lose weight through cycling… So why is this such a none starter?
Quite simply because it implicitly assumes that obese people have been sitting around (that part might be true!), oblivious that they have potential health issues and completely devoid of any idea as to how to rectify the situation. As a former obese person myself, and now someone that works with many obese people each week, let me assure you nothing could be further from the truth!
Most obese people are well aware of the health impact of their weight and mostly they know *WHAT* they need to do. It’s the *HOW* that causes the problem…
So they are stupid right? OBVIOUSLY they just need to start riding a bike and if we stop showing them adverts for junk food they will simply have no option but to eat a completely different diet as they will immediately forget about how high calorie (fabulous tasting) convenience food… Yes the scales will fall from their eyes.
Quite clearly I am not stupid, and nor are the vast majority of obese people that I know. The difficulty with obesity is that it is often more of a complex psychological problem, than a simplistic lack of health education. Yes it manifests itself in the over consumption of calories, leading to increasing difficulty to exercise and then into a downward spiral of increasing weight gain… But it’s honestly not because obese people are stupid and don’t realise that overeating calories will make them fatter.
In the same way that you don’t find a real solution at the bottom of a bottle of Scotch, neither do you find a solution under a pile of comfort food.
Maybe the solution to reversing the so called ‘obesity crisis’ is to understand the root causes of the behaviour and provide opportunities for people to strongly desire a different lifestyle. At that point interventions such as education and food / exercise programmes can be used to help. But till an individual really wants to be different, you might as well ask the nation to sit at home on a sunny day or wear a face mask in Tesco (neither of which gained 100% compliance as they weren’t attractive options).
Therefore in the same way that an alcoholic starts their recovery by recognising their problem and what drives their behaviour, I would suggest that obesity is similar. Once it is possible for someone to understand what causes them to over consume calories and THEY decide they want to change and live a different life, then a bicycle might help…
But until then you might as well give the next alcoholic you see a lovely refreshing glass of orange juice, pat them on the head and explain (in a slow voice using simple words) that its wonderfully “healthy”, full of super vitamins and will make them all lovely and shiny again.
You see my point?
If you do happen to be at the same point that I got to where YOU decide you really want to make a change, then of course contact me any time. Or you might find this article of interest, in which I chat about the basic realities of the food!
credit: original article that inspired this post BBC Website. Image reproduced from that article.