Fat is a class issue

An NHS Health Scotland report quoting figures from 2015-16, found that children starting school in danger of becoming obese was 7% in the most affluent areas (middle class) but nearly double that at 13% in poorer neighbourhoods (working class).

“Researchers found the most affluent areas saw the lowest levels of obesity. Obesity among women becomes progressively more common as the level of deprevation increases.”

The more I look, the more I see. I see people like me, of my age and younger, carrying far too much weight. I lost 3 stone just under 20 kg in a year by going to the gym a couple of times a week and cutting out most sugar. Reactions where mixed, some folk would say, you look great, then you have the, dont lose too much, concerns (often from skinny people?). What surprised me the most was the amount of people who said that they didnt think that I “looked that big!” Before I lost the weight.

Which takes us to the heart of the matter. As our calorie consumption has increased and our physically active lifestyles decreased, we have become used to seeing the bigger bodies that we now inhabit.

Super size me is now the norm.

I’ve never really got the term “comfort food”. I grew up eating potatoes ( usually chips) meat and beans. I had no idea that chips where supposed to bring me comfort ? It was just my dinner. We always had sweets from the ice cream van, as did everyone, and biscuits with our tea. Maybe this is where the seed was set. Before so much of the manual work was stripped out of our daily lives and the advent of multi buys on all the stuff that is bad for us (sugar, salt, fat), we already had the pattern set for the consumption of and emotional attachment to . . . Dare I say it, comfort foods! Fried food and sugar, with a healthy dose of salt so that we don’t pull away from the sickening but highly addictive sugar. Food manufactures figured this out decades ago, the unholy grail of junk food, salt, sugar and fat in the right combination creates cravings that are hard to resist.

in the UK, we are, on average, consuming a wheel barrow load of sugar per person annually! Ok so it’s only sugar, it tastes great, yes it does. The problem is that the more research that is done into the effects of sugar in the human body, the more it becomes apparent that it is literally killing us. The obesity epidemic we are now facing is fuelled by sugar more so than fat. It is also a contributing factor in the increase in type 2 diabetes.

This is not just down to our greedy overindulgence in all things sweet, food manufactures have poisoned our staple foods with sugar. Foods that we think of as savoury are also polluted with massive amounts of the white stuff, take a look at the back of a tin of beans, or tomato soup, sugar will come 3rd or 4th in the list of ingredients, just after the tomatoes and beans! Same as ketchup and a whole range of other products. in fact, it’s a challenge to find processed foods that are sugar free and if they are, then artificial sweeteners fill the void, adding another dimension, of ingredients invented in a laboratory. The more factory made food we eat, the more we lose control of our diet and our health.

Throw in the over consumption of alcohol on top of saturated fat and sugar and a serious lack of physical activty! No wonder we are getting fatter. Notice how the report does not speak of class but of affluence and deprivation? A positive label for the middle class and a negative label for the working class. When this over consumption of sugar and food of a generally poor quality is combined with alcohol, the situation gets drastically worse.

Working class families head for McDonalds while middle class families trail their kids around ikea and maybe get them a hot dog on the way out, that’s if they are not in Decathlon (the home of 70 sports!) riding bikes up and down the isles or playing table tennis.

Unfortunately , again a lot of the challenges faced by working class communities are not only externally influenced , whether wage freezes, low pay or benefit cuts, but also our own lack of imagination and our inability to break down our own stereotypes and conditioning . We MUST have sky television, even if it means eating a 60p loaf of bread, the mental poverty that makes us think that, spending twice as much for good bread is ridiculous, but lining Rupert Murdoch’s pockets because we can’t do without game of thrones is ok?

Alright, so I am generalising and stereotyping to a degree, but unfortunately these pitfalls of class and culture far too often ring true. Yes more can and must be done to lift more working class families out of financial poverty, by government agencies, after all that is why we pay taxes(maybe we should tax sugar out of existence?). As always, I prefer to look directly within our own communities for answers.

Increased physical activity and better diet, we can do this today, by ourselves! If only we can tackle our own “metal poverty” head on. What’s more important? Is it stuff, or substance? Getting into more debt for yet the latest iphone, or can we excercise more self discipline and and self worth?

Yes we have to die from something! Very good, but you don’t get any medals for stating the obvious , it’s not about living forever, it is about not feeling crap while we are actually still drawing breath! It’s about having enough vision to see beyond short term gratification and value our own existence, to treat ourselves with a little more love and respect, its about setting an example for our children and grandchildren.

Community centres are full of a wide range of classes from zumba to metafit to yoga, most have martial arts too. These classes will not come to you. Walk more, sit less . . . All the sugar loaded junk that is so easy an option at your supermarket or local shop will not magically dissapear from the shelves. It can be hard to make changes to our daily lives, but the alternative, ultimately is, more of the same.

Aks yourself one simple question in relation to your own health, both physical and emotional. About how you feel on a daily basis.


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