The new 'normal'

Judith Wills / 15 May 2015

With many people now considering what was once deemed overweight 'normal', diet and wellbeing blogger Judith Wills wonders whether the time has come to look at our attitude towards the country's increasing obesity.

Apparently being fat is fast becoming the new 'normal', so that, for example, someone who is a size 18 now, doesn't consider themselves overweight, though ten or so years ago, they would have done.

For many reasons, this is not good. The prediction from the World Health Organisation is that over two-thirds of us in the UK will be overweight or obese within 15 years and thus we really will be the rule rather than the exception.

The fact is that already, half - yes half (according to a McKinsey report published last year) of our total NHS budget goes on treating people who are obese, and usually suffering from its side effects, such as heart disease, osteoarthritis, diabetes and some cancers. This fact, surprisingly, seems to have passed under the radar as more and more of us happily eat years off our lives and our health.

Yes, perhaps our land of plenty, with its fast recovering economy and job market and ever-cheaper food, surely has a lot to do with our increasing girth. But another problem is that it is now non-PC to even point out that someone is overweight.

Recent research has found that professionals are reluctant to offer weight loss advice to youngsters for fear of upsetting them, or their parents, so two-thirds of fat children who are seen by a doctor (for all conditions) get no help.

And parents themselves are either long-term overweight and thus their own children look 'right size' to them, or some may fear mentioning burgeoning weight to a child, in case that child ends up with an eating disorder.

Remember the outcry last year when schools would weigh pupils and write home to the parents if a child was found to be overweight? This was deemed to be a really bad idea, making overweight children feel self-conscious and likely to develop eating disorders and poor 'body image'.

However statistics prove conclusively that the UK incidence of anorexia and other eating disorders is a drop in the ocean compared with the droves of seriously overweight and obese people - of all ages.

So perhaps we should set aside our neurotic need to tiptoe around people who are fat, and instead offer no-nonsense advice and help. Given the PC climate on the subject, it's a wonder any slimming clubs are left and thriving, but some are and I am glad - they may be the only organisations and people left in the country who don't mind bringing out the scales, and reading out the truth, then offering advice - usually, very good advice.

And I must admit I think it would be really good if our ailing and overburdened NHS could free up a bit of that massive amount of cash spent on treating the results of overeating.

By the way - I congratulate a mum, Kirsty Henshaw, who has won an award for her range of healthy ready meals, inspired by wanting her young son Jacob to be healthier. She's selling both in Sainsburys and Waitrose and good on her. But I was a bit baffled when I read that to celebrate her success, she took Joshua out for a meal - to their local fast food pizza joint!

Ate last night:

The weather's perked up again where we live so, after a few days of 'back to winter' soups and curries, I made a very simple salmon salad.

I just cut two medium salmon fillets into three pieces each and cooked them in a pan brushed with a little rapeseed oil for a couple of minutes a side. Meanwhile I arranged various salad leaves, including some lovely rocket and herbs from our garden, on our plates and topped them with sliced avocado and a bit of cucumber.

I made up a dressing with rapeseed oil, lemon juice, a dash of maple syrup, a little salt and black pepper and Dijon mustard, served the salmon with the dressing and some chives over, and that was it. Much more delicious than its simplicity would imply.

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