Tuesday, 6 September 2011
I am not obese – but I could be in the year 2030.
Experts have been hurling statistics at us again, this time terrifying the population of the United Kingdom with the horrific news that 40% of all people will be obese by the year 2030.
Think about that for a second; four out of every ten people living in the United Kingdom will be obese.
They won’t just be slightly overweight.
They won’t just be overweight.
They won’t be “pleasantly plump”.
They will be obese – they will be walking barrels of blubber – they will make elephants look skinny.
I can’t decide whether these experts who have come up with these figures have made a mistake or whether they are basing their figures on current trends.
Either way, it is enough to make a Daily Mail reader run around screaming “We’re all going to die,” or a Daily Express reader run around screaming “Where’s Princess Diana when you need her?”
When I heard this, I was intrigued. What does “obese” actually mean?
I have taken a risk looking this up because I am a bit of a hypochondriac (you can read about it here) and to look up the medical definition may involve accidentally spotting symptoms for an awful disease.
Thankfully I came across a BMI calculator and decided to work out just how fat I actually am.
I am 5 feet 11 inches tall and I weigh 13 stones 6 pounds (188 pounds). This gives me a BMI of 25.8 which is (as I already knew) slightly overweight.
Thankfully it is not massively overweight and I can reach a healthy BMI (24.9) if I lose 7 pounds.
If I were to suddenly decide to eat utter junk, on the other hand, I would reach obesity by increasing my weight to 15 stones 10 pounds (220 pounds) and attaining a BMI of 30.
Losing 7 pounds seems to be a good target to aim for and achievable for somebody like me. Gaining 31 pounds seems like madness but with a little effort it is not beyond the realms of possibility should I suddenly become possessed by an insane urge to swell my gut so big that I lose sight of my genitalia.
The problem is that it is easier to gain weight than lose weight and with all the cheap junk food available in Britain at the moment, I can see why experts are becoming concerned.
Mrs PM is very conscious of her weight and she nestles nicely in the “normal” BMI range. She is careful what she eats and, consequently, I am too by association. We eat a varied but healthy diet, punctuated by the odd mad over-indulgence, usually at the weekend and usually involving (in my case) bacon, sausage, cheese and beer.
Abstaining from such foodstuffs would see my weight drop and I have the willpower to do that (providing I can fight the urge to kill people at work and eat comfort food to console myself).
Sadly there are people who seem not to care; and I can see how experts think we are drifting towards the obesity levels of the United States. We are already the fattest nation in Europe, according to some reports.
I have seen some enormous people in my time. On a business trip to Atlanta in the US, I decided to go for a walk around the city centre and spied an enormous beast of a man. He was huge. Each leg was like a tree trunk swathed in blubber; people like that should not be allowed to wear shorts by law. His T-shirt was so big it could have housed a family of rhinos. His face was so podgy that I could barely see his eyes.
And guess what? He was eating an enormous burger.
I wondered how somebody could grow that big and then I had, what I thought, was a small lunch. There was enough food to feed a family of six and I had to leave most of it.
Back in the UK, restaurants don’t tend to serve enormous portions of food. But junk food is ubiquitous with KFC, Burger King, McDonald’s etc. on every corner.
And the worst food is quite cheap. Supermarkets sell pizzas for next to nothing. It is cheaper to buy junk food than good food.
Take last week for example. It was my turn to do the weekly shop and I found myself at the checkout behind a reasonably large lady; she wasn’t fat but she wasn’t thin at all. In her shopping trolley she had cakes, chocolates, pizzas and all manner of food that might transport her and her family safely down the road to Plump City. She may have heard the news about obesity because it looked like she was taking steps – she had bought a load of low fat yoghurts.
I wondered about that. Why not just put back the cakes and chocolate and buy some fruit? Why not pop back the pizzas and buy some fish and some vegetables?
Perhaps she was just making a start.
After all, every little helps, so they say.
My immediate aim, knowing that I am fairly close to achieving a normal BMI is to grab my willpower and cut the crap for a week or two or three.
Sadly, given my plans for September, that might not be so easy – but if I cut down on cakes, chocolate, burgers, pizza, deep fried chicken and chips I might stand a chance. It’s just a shame I don’t normally eat any of them.
Oh well, bye bye bacon, sayonara sausages and ciao cheese – at least for a week or two.
Beer? That too – maybe*
*The Plastic Mancunian reserves the right to tell lies!