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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Too sweet for our own good

So Cumbria is the fattest areas of England and Copeland is officially the obesity capital of the country.

We are the fat of the land.

The news comes from Public Health England data.

I’m not sure Copeland is very much worse than other areas of Cumbria or the country.

There are overweight and fat people wherever you look. There are also ‘normal’ looking people, and, occasionally, skinny people.

There are all sorts of reasons for people to be overweight.

For a start, many of us work in offices, so tend to sit down for long periods at work. Then we go home and sit while we bash out messages or play on a computer screen or tablet or phone.

Food is more plentiful and less important to us than it was decades ago. We want something quick and easy at the end of the day, not something that we have to spend an or so preparing.

So we eat ready-made, processed food that usually includes high sugar and salt levels. Bizarrely, we often eat this while watching someone else spend time and effort cooking on a gourmet food show on TV.

We also seem to have a much sweeter tooth nowadays. The range of puddings, cakes and desserts in our supermarkets and stores has exploded over the past decade alone. It’s the same with savoury snacks. Read the ingredients in a bag of crisps and you’ll find sugar. Sugar, in crisps.

Part of the reason that society is getting fatter is that a lot of us eat something as soon as we feel a pang of hunger. Or boredom.

We snack, rather than wait until meal time, or find something to do to break our boredom.

Booze is another major problem. We hear plenty about the criminal and anti-social side effects of too much booze, and the damage it causes to the liver, heart and brain. But little is said about the calories involved. More alcohol means more sugar. Sugar is also used to mask the natural foul taste of the alcohol.

There’s no quick and simple answer to the problem, other than eating less and taking more exercise. Most of us know that, we just can’t be bothered to do anything about it.

Being obese costs us all. Stoke council is spending £10,000 on texting to obese people in a bid to motivate them to lose weight.

A council spokesman said: “On average it costs the same amount [£10,000] to perform just one intervention operation to help people manage their weight.”

Our magazines are full of taut sportsmen and women who are much admired, along with models and actresses with thin waists and slim thighs.

Like cooking the gourmet food, we think looking even slightly like this is beyond us, so we don’t even try. But even small changes can make a difference. Just a little effort can make a change.

You don’t even have to join a gym. A few minutes power walking to work or round a park would be a start.

We happen to live in one of the most attractive, varied and challenging parts of the country, if not Europe. But you don’t have to be a fell runner, rock climber or white water canoeist to take advantage of it all.

There’s no excuse for us not getting out, making the most of it, burning off a few calories and feeling better.

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