The Fat Man of Europe

The Fat Man of Europe

Dear Mr Young,

I saw my first edition of “Mature Times” today, and was much impressed, as I had no idea that such a useful magazine was published and free!

However, I wasn’t quite so impressed with the lead story “UK has become the fat man of Europe”.  While it accurately reflected the UN Food and Agriculture report, that report itself, being based solely on food, is seriously misleading.

It showed that obesity is a huge and growing problem (no pun intended) but obesity has two causes; food and exercise. You can eat as much as you like without putting on weight as long as you exercise sufficiently, and you can diet as much as you like but you’ll still put weight on if you don’t exercise.  Weight control is an equation, and altering one value, food or exercise, affects the other.  The UN report only mentioned only one of the variables, food, and totally ignored exercise.

Calorific intake has fallen over the past fifty years, so increased calories cannot be the cause of obesity, except for a small number of individuals.  What has changed over the last fifty years is exercise levels, which have fallen off a cliff, so the answer to the obesity crisis isn’t mass dieting, it’s mass exercise.  The question is; how do we get more people exercising more often?  Going to the gym doesn’t work for most people, who start off full of enthusiasm but quickly find that it’s a chore and boring, and the same goes for things like swimming and other sports.

The answer is Active Travel, walking and cycling, which can be easily incorporated into many people’s lives.  Instead of using the car for all trips, no matter how short, you can use your feet, walking or pedalling to work, school, the shops etc.  Most areas in the UK are promoting Active Travel and lots of advice and help is available, just check with your local council.

Most trips are under five miles, eminently suitable for cycling, which is quicker around town, makes you fit, slim and healthy and saves you a fortune.  Remember how much fun cycling was when you were young?  It still is.

I sold my car twenty five years ago and I walk, bike or catch the bus, and I’m fitter, slimmer, healthier and wealthier!

Richard Burton