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An Olympic hypocrisy

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The Olympics are almost upon us, and so starts 19 days of sporting activities that might be watched on TV by up to four billion people worldwide.

Hosting the Olympics will allow the UK to promote itself to the world, and the Olympic legacy will provide new sporting facilities and housing for British people. One of the other hopes is that the Olympics will encourage the young and old, as well as the unfit and overweight, into any sort of activity. Whether this actually happens, however, will be very difficult to measure.

In the last few weeks, I have started my own fitness and weight-loss regime – not because of all the Olympic publicity, but instead so I can be in the best possible shape for my wedding next July. I’d rather not look like the Michelin Man... in a suit... going to a wedding.

I have noticed that over the last six months my weight has gradually increased because of my more sedentary lifestyle. Since I am no longer required to attend endless post-take ward rounds or run off to a cardiac arrest in the renal ward (which happens to be on the 10th floor), my weight has surreptitiously crept up.

Now, the most I’m likely to walk per day is the 10 metres to and from the waiting room – which is pretty terrible compared with the 10,000-plus steps I easily used to do on an on-call shift.

Of course, I am fully aware that I could have joined a gym or a sports club in the last few months to ‘stop the rot’, and up until a month or two ago I was playing badminton weekly.

But the cumulative effect of my two-hour round trip from work every day, unexpectedly busy shifts in my current practice and the miserable weather has made it quite difficult for me to muster the willpower to go and exercise after work.

I remember a conversation I had about diabetes management with an endocrinology consultant many years ago. We watched an overweight registrar walk by, and after a minute the consultant said: ‘It’s really hard convincing patients to lose weight and for them to listen and trust you, when the doctor giving the advice is fatter than they are.’

So, from one hypocrisy to another.

I’m sure I’m not the only person that sees the irony of a massive sporting event, trying to promote health and fitness, being sponsored by McDonalds – a company that encourages children to eat Happy Meals every time a new Disney film is released.

Our job as GPs to encourage health promotion is an uphill battle I have to deal with now and in the future.

Dr Avradeep Chakrabarti is a GST2 from Swindon

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